The US military has publicly identified the ISIS-K member it took out with a drone strike in Afghanistan last month, fewer than 48 hours after the terror group carried out a deadly suicide attack at Kabul’s international airport.
In a statement Thursday, Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM) revealed Kabir Aidi, aka Mustafa, was killed in the Aug. 27 strike in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province.
Rigsbee described Aidi as “an ISIS-K high profile attack lethal aid facilitator involved in attack planning and magnetic IED production,” and added that “Post-strike reflections indicate that Kabir Aidi was directly connected to the ISIS-K leaders that coordinated the August 26 attack” at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The drone strike that killed Aidi was in retaliation for the suicide bombing at the airport, which killed 13 US service members — 11 Marines, an Army soldier and a Navy hospital corpsman — as well as 169 Afghans. The terrorist targeted a crowded area of the airport, where the Americans were helping to process Afghans who were attempting to get on evacuation flights out of the country.
The attack was a final tragic chapter in the chaotic US military evacuation of Afghanistan, which wrapped up Aug. 30 and resulted in the abandonment of dozens of American citizens and legal permanent residents — as well as thousands of Afghans who assisted US forces during the 20-year war in that country and have been targeted for retaliation by the victorious Taliban.
The Aidi strike was overshadowed days later by a strike in Kabul, which the Pentagon admitted last week killed 10 civilians — including seven children and a US-linked aid worker — and not more ISIS bomb plotters, as initially claimed.
The Pentagon had declined to identify the target of the initial strike in the hours after it happened, leading some critics to suggest that it had botched that operation as well.
ISIS-K refers to Islamic State Khorasan, the name given to the terror group’s affiliate in Afghanistan. In the final days of the evacuation, the Biden administration suggested that the group was a common foe of the US and the Taliban, necessitating a level of cooperation between the longtime foes.