A lone ISIS suicide bomber with a vest full of ball bearings carried out the Kabul airport massacre


The Pentagon said Friday that a single Islamic State suicide bomber was responsible for the suicide bombing that killed 13 US soldiers and at least 170 Afghans at Kabul airport in August – and its investigation found that It was not the result of a complex attack, involving a bomb and gunmen, as previously thought.

The attack brought a tragic end to the hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan and has cast a shadow over the Biden administration ever since.

Briefing reporters on their findings, investigators said the blast sent 5mm ball bearings through a packed crowd and the attack could not have been prevented.

But they also said British, American and Taliban officials discussed closing the door to the abbey – where the blast happened – just 36 minutes before the attack.

They kept it open because there were still evacuees trying to get to the airport.

And investigators released never-before-seen footage of the moment the bomb went off and drone video of the immediate aftermath.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said the investigation found no definitive evidence of hostile fire.

“I want to acknowledge that the investigation differs from what we initially thought on the day of the attack,” he told reporters.

“At the time, the best information we had immediately after the attack indicated that it was a complex attack carried out by both a suicide bomber and ISIS-K [the local ISIS affiliate] armed men.

The Pentagon released aerial images showing the location of the explosion by Abbey Gate of

Slides shown during the Pentagon briefing show how American dead and wounded were near the channel where the bomber detonated its explosives and had huddled together to search for potential evacuees.  Those most affected stood on a wall overlooking the canal

Slides shown during the Pentagon briefing show how American dead and wounded were near the channel where the bomber detonated its explosives and had huddled together to search for potential evacuees. Those most affected stood on a wall overlooking the canal

Those most affected were inside a 50 meter blast zone, near a sniper tower

Those most affected were inside a 50 meter blast zone, near a sniper tower

Afghans trying to flee the Taliban were crowded into a canal, while a line of Marines held back the rest of the crowd.  The worst casualties were crammed into this area under the cinder block sniper tower at the top of this photo, released Friday by the DoD

Afghans trying to flee the Taliban were crowded into a canal, while a line of Marines held back the rest of the crowd. The worst casualties were crammed into this area under the cinder block sniper tower at the top of this photo, released Friday by the DoD

A US Marine stands on the wall above the canal.  Personnel on the wall suffered the worst casualties when a lone bomber detonated their explosives

A US Marine stands on the wall above the canal. Personnel on the wall suffered the worst casualties when a lone bomber detonated their explosives

The attack took place on August 26 in the final days of a chaotic evacuation.

The Taliban had already taken control of Kabul and US troops were helping US nationals and Afghans flee the country in a crowded environment at the airport.

It was the darkest chapter of the operation and prompted questions about why the Biden administration had not been better prepared.

Investigators presented a detailed account of how the bombing was carried out.

A lone suicide bomber, dressed in black, carrying about 20 pounds of explosives was responsible, they said.

He was able to approach the airport’s Abbey Gate without being stopped because the Afghans had begun using a variety of different routes to avoid Taliban checkpoints.

Investigators showed photographs taken of the crash in the area just before the explosion and explained that the Marines were forming human barriers to prevent people from passing through unchecked.

They said the bomber detonated his explosives near a channel that formed part of the airport’s physical defenses – and likely raised the bomb in the air as he did so.

They found the remains of a tattered backpack among the debris.

The dead and wounded Americans were hit by shrapnel and ball bearings that rolled through the canal ditch, and the worst hit had been standing on a wall to search for potential refugees.

The American personnel were grouped at the base of a sniper tower.

The attack occurred during the chaotic evacuation, as Americans and Afghans headed for the airport to beat the August 31 deadline set by President Biden for the end of the operation.

The attack occurred during the chaotic evacuation, as Americans and Afghans headed for the airport to beat the August 31 deadline set by President Biden for the end of the operation.

“The reason so many military personnel were herded together at the base of the sniper tower was the need to hold back the crowd,” Lt. Col. Bert Smith said.

“And you continue to screen potential evacuees for as long as possible to save as many lives as possible.”

The radius of the blast was 50 meters, he said.

McKenzie added: ‘The disturbing lethality of this device was confirmed by the 58 US servicemen who were killed and injured despite universal wear of body armor and helmets that stopped ball bearings that hit them, but could not prevent catastrophic injuries to uncovered areas.’

The moment the bomb went off was captured in a short video shown during the briefing. Two Marines stand in the foreground before an explosion is seen in the distance, sending flames and a plume of smoke into the air.

Longer videos shot of people overhead rushing to treat and evacuate the injured.

Another video showed the crush a day before the attack, when a Marine was shot into the crowd through the muzzle of his rifle.

More troops than barriers were put in place to control the crowd, in

The Taliban were responsible for an outer layer of security. But the investigation – which included interviews with 139 people – found they were unaware of the attack in advance, security precautions were being taken and intelligence about potential threats circulating that day were not specific.

“Based on our investigation, at the tactical level, this was not preventable,” said Brig. General Lance Curtis, who led the investigation.

Military officials said the shots fired after the explosion turned out to be warning shots fired by American and British troops, and no one was killed or wounded by bullets.

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