Marine in Kabul airport blast says he was told not to shoot ISIS bomber

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A Marine who survived the deadly bombing at Kabul’s airport during the 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan told lawmakers Wednesday he was told not to kill a suspected ISIS terrorist who he believes was responsible for later killing 13 of his fellow service members and countless Afghans.

Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews recounted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee how his team deployed to Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26, 2021, and were tracking a man who intelligence officers believed was a suicide bomber “throughout the entirety” of the day leading up to the explosion.

“Intel guys confirmed the suicide bomber … described as clean-shaven, brown-dressed, black vest and traveling with an older companion,” he said. “I asked intel guys why he wasn’t apprehended sooner since we had a full description. I was told the asset could not be compromised.”

Vargas-Andrews recounted his experience during his opening remarks at the committee’s hearing examining the Biden administration’s handling of the final weeks of the 20-year US war in Afghanistan. The chaotic effort brought massive crowds to the airport with fewer than 6,000 US troops deployed to assist.

Vargas-Andrews told the committee that his team continually updated intelligence teams that day on the suspect’s actions, noting the men were an “anomaly in the crowd” and “both had obvious mannerisms that go along with who we believed him to be.”