Taliban unaware it killed alleged planner of Kabul airport bombing that left 13 Americans dead: US official


(WASHINGTON) — ABC News on Wednesday obtained new details after major questions were left unanswered when Biden administration officials on Tuesday said the Taliban had killed the terrorist allegedly responsible for planning the 2021 Kabul, Afghanistan, airport bombing.

The attack took the lives of 13 U.S. service members and scores of civilians.

ABC News spoke to a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter to get more answers Wednesday morning.

Was the U.S. involved, even in indirect ways, such as intelligence-sharing?

While officials, such as White House spokesman John Kirby and Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, have publicly stated the U.S. had no role in the Taliban operation that they say killed the ISIS-K leader, it was unclear whether the U.S. could have played a subtler indirect part, such as by sharing intelligence.

When ABC News asked the U.S. official whether there was coordination of any kind with the Taliban, the official replied, “None at all.”

While the U.S. also sought to target the ISIS-K terrorist, the Taliban killed him on its own, according to the official.

Why hasn’t the Taliban taken credit?

Another curious aspect of the story is that the Taliban has so far not taken credit for the apparent high-level blow against its ISIS-K nemesis.

The U.S. assesses the reason is that the Taliban did not know it had killed this particular terrorist, according to the official.

How did the U.S. learn of the death, if the Taliban didn’t notify it?

A senior Biden administration official on Tuesday said the U.S. did not learn of the death from the Taliban, but would not elaborate.

The U.S. official on Wednesday went slightly further, saying the U.S. learned of the death through its own intelligence capabilities, according to the official.

Why won’t U.S. officials name the ISIS-K planner?

So far, administration officials have refused to give the name of the planner, with Kirby telling reporters on Wednesday, “I’m just not at liberty to reveal that.”

The U.S. official told ABC News the reluctance to give the name is due to concerns doing so would reveal intelligence sourcing, according to the official.

When did the death occur?

The White House and Pentagon said the Taliban attack that killed the planner took place “in recent weeks.” The U.S. official specified that it occurred in “early April.”

Was there any airstrike involved in the killing of the ISIS-K planner?

The official said the terrorist was killed in a Taliban ground attack.

ABC News’ Justin Gomez and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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