United States Central Command (CENTCOM) revealed that an ISIS-K terrorist “directly connected” with the Kabul airport attack that left 13 US troops dead during President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal was killed in the first U.S. drone strike launched during the withdrawal.
According to the Washington Examiner, the U.S. strike killed Kabir Aidi, also known as Mustafa, in the Aug. 27 drone strike near Nangahar, Afghanistan.
CENTCOM spokesman, Army Maj. John Rigsbee, told the Examiner in a statement that Aidi “was an ISIS-K high-profile attack lethal aid facilitator involved in attack planning and magnetic IED production.”
The official said Aidi was “directly connected” to the deadly suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 U.S. troops.
“Post-strike reflections indicate that Kabir Aidi was directly connected to the ISIS-K leaders that coordinated the August 26 attack at [Hamid Karzai International Airport],” Rigsbee said. “He was directly connected to threat streams in Kabul throughout the noncombatant evacuation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport,” including “the reported distribution of explosives and suicide vests.”
A second person killed in the drone strike was identified as an ISIS collaborator, but his identity is unknown, a person familiar with the attack said. Rigsbee said he was also part of the Kabul University attack on Nov. 2, 2020.
In August, CENTCOM spokesman and Navy Capt. Bill Urban announced the “over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planning,” and that “initial indications are that we killed the target.” Urban also said his team knew “of no civilian casualties.”
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff for Regional Operations, later said two “high-profile ISIS targets were killed and one was wounded,” but the remaining individuals were not identified.
The U.S. launched a second drone strike two days later that ended up killing 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet announced this month that it will stand up a new task force of airborne, sea surface and underwater drones in its area of operations. The task force comes a week after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan and amid a series of mysterious attacks throughout the Middle East that Iran may be behind.
“We want to put more systems out in the maritime domain above, on and below the sea,” 5th Fleet commanding Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said in a statement shared with the Associated Press. “We want more eyes on what’s happening out there.”
The 5th Fleet did not specify what types of drone systems they would use, but the new task force will spread unmanned systems throughout the region to monitor critical chokepoints throughout the waterways of the Middle East, which are crucial to the global energy supply and shipping.