Taliban kill mastermind of Kabul airport suicide bombing – KESQ


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Taliban have killed the top leader of the Islamic State group behind the August 2021 suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and about 170 Afghans, according to the father of a slain Marine. in the attack that was reported Tuesday by military officials.

Among the 13 dead was Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, a 22-year-old La Quinta High School graduate.

Check it out: Marine Cpl Hunter Lopez’s parents share their story

Over the weekend, the US military began notifying the families of the 11 Marines, the sailor and the soldier killed in the explosion at Abbey Gate during the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. And those family members shared the information in a private group messaging chat, according to the mother of another Marine.

(top row from left to right) Maxton Soviak, Kareem Nikoui, David Espinoza, Rylee McCollum, Jared Schmitz, Taylor Hoover, Nicole Gee (bottom row from left to right) Ryan Knauss, Hunter Lopez, Johanny Rosario, Humberto Sanchez, Daegan Page , Dylan Merola

The families’ account to The Associated Press was confirmed by three US officials and a top congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public.

The Islamic State leader, whose identity has not yet been released, was killed in southern Afghanistan in early April as the Taliban carried out a series of operations against the Islamic State group, according to one of the officials. The Taliban at the time were not aware of the identity of the person they killed, the official added.

Darin Hoover, the father of Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover said the Marines provided him with limited information Tuesday and did not identify the Islamic State leader or give the circumstances of his death.

Hoover is among a group of 12 Gold Star families who have kept in touch since the attack, supporting each other and sharing information through chat messages. The chat was created by Cheryl Rex, the mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who died in the explosion.

Rex, who has been outspoken in criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of the pullout, told AP that it was through the chat group that they were informed Monday night about the killing as they awaited official confirmation from military officials. americans.

Hoover said he and his son’s mother, Kelly Henson, have spent the past year and a half mourning the death of the 31-year-old Marine Corps staff sergeant and praying for the Biden administration’s accountability for its handling of the retreat.

The killing of the unidentified member of the Islamic State group, Hoover said, is not helping them.

“No matter what happens, it’s not going to bring Taylor back and I understand that,” he said in a phone call. “About the only thing his mother and I can do now is be his advocate. All we want is the truth. And we are not getting it. That’s the frustrating part.”

His son and the other fallen service members were among those watching over the thousands of Afghans frantically trying on August 26, 2021 to board one of the crowded flights leaving the country after the US takeover. taliban The scene of despair quickly turned to horror when a suicide bomber attacked. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

The explosion at Abbey Gate came hours after Western officials warned of a major attack, urging people to leave the airport. But that advice was largely ignored by Afghans desperate to escape the country in the final days of a US-led evacuation before the US officially ended its 20-year presence.

The Afghanistan-based branch of Islamic State, with up to 4,000 members, is the Taliban’s staunchest enemy and main military threat. The group has continued to carry out attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power, especially against minority groups in the country.

After the Trump administration reached an agreement in 2020 with the Taliban to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and the Biden administration followed through on that agreement in 2021, there was hope in Washington that the Taliban’s desire for international recognition and assistance to the country’s impoverished population could moderate their behavior.

But relations between the US and the Taliban have deteriorated significantly since they imposed draconian new measures that barred girls from going to school and barred women from working for international aid and health agencies.

However, there is still a line of communication between the two sides, led by the US special envoy for Afghanistan, Tom West. West’s contacts are mainly with Taliban officials in Kabul and not with the more ideological wing of the Kandahar-based group.

The withdrawal of US troops in August 2021 led to the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and military, which the US had supported for nearly two decades, and the return to power of the Taliban. A comprehensive review was later ordered by President Joe Biden to look at “every aspect of this from top to bottom” and was released earlier this month.

The Biden administration in the public version of the review largely blamed President Donald Trump for the deadly and chaotic 2021 withdrawal, which was marked by the suicide bombing at Abbey Gate.

News of the assassination came the same day that Biden formally announced that he will seek a second term as president, offering a reminder of one of the most difficult chapters of his presidency. The disastrous downsizing was, at the time, the biggest crisis the relatively new administration had ever faced. It left sharp questions about the competence and experience of Biden and his team, the twin central pillars of his White House campaign.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Tara Copp and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

Check out some of News Channel 3’s previous coverage of Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez and learn more about his story and how the community honored his sacrifice:

A scholarship fund has been established in Hunter’s name for LQHS students pursuing careers in public service.

To donate, visit: https://desert-sands-educational-foundation.snwbll.com/hunter-lopez-memorial-scholarship-fund

The family has also created the “Hunter Lopez Memorial Foundation” to help those who protect and serve our nation.

The foundation has already sponsored two service dogs for active duty service members and has sponsored several families to attend their sons’ graduation from Navy boot camp.

To donate visit: https://hunterlopezmemorialfoundation.org/

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