Top Biden administration officials reportedly knew approximately the time frame and likely location that ISIS was going to carry out a terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul.
Politico reported on Monday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and other top officials warned on Wednesday of last week that there was “significant” intelligence indicating that ISIS was planning an attack at the airport and that officials needed to make immediate plans for a “mass casualty event.”
Politico’s report, which was based on classified notes from meetings between top U.S. officials, said that commanders on the ground in Kabul warned that the Abbey Gate, where American citizens were instructed to go, was at the “highest risk” of being attacked and that the attack was likely to happen within the next 24-48 hours.
An ISIS terrorist detonated a suicide vest carrying approximately 25 pounds of explosives at the Abbey Gate the following day, killing more than 200 people, including 13 U.S. service members.
U.S. officials decided to keep the gate open to allow U.S. allies to continue evacuating people despite knowing the extreme risk to the Abbey Gate and despite a plan from commanders to close the gate that afternoon. The report said that the bombing happened as Austin and Milley were in the White House meeting with President Joe Biden.
Politico’s report also noted that U.S. officials had numerous issues with getting the Taliban to cooperate, which comes after The Washington Post reported last week that the U.S. effectively ceded control of Kabul to the Taliban because of Biden’s orders to withdraw U.S. forces.
The report from The Post explained how the rapid collapse of the Afghan government led to the Taliban and the Biden administration having to figure out who would control Kabul as the U.S. continued to evacuate people.
The Post said that “a hastily arranged in-person meeting” was set up in Doha, Qatar, between top U.S. military leaders, including Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command and Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.
“We have a problem,” Baradar said. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”
The Post reported:
Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind.
McKenzie, aware of those orders, told Baradar that the U.S. mission was only to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and others at risk. The United States, he told Baradar, needed the airport to do that.
On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.
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