The ISIS-K suicide bomber who killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans in an August terrorist attack at Kabul International Airport was released from the Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base less than two weeks early, according to three U.S. officials who spoke with CNN.
Hours before the Taliban captured Kabul, the group took control of the prison and released all the approximately 7,000 people incarcerated there, including Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri, the suicide bomber.
The information was confirmed by two American officials, as well as GOP Rep. Ken Calvert, who serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense. Calvert said he was briefed by national security officials on the identity of the suicide bomber and his release from Bagram prison.
In a statement, Calvert said the “disastrous” handling of the withdrawal “led to a series of events that culminated with the tragic loss of life on August 26th outside of the Kabul airport. Thirteen Americans, including one of my constituents, were killed because of the poor judgement and execution of our troop withdrawal.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted in Capitol Hill hearings last week that the Pentagon was surprised by the complete collapse of the Afghan military in just 11 days.
But he defended the decision to leave Bagram, saying retaining the base “would have required putting as many as five thousand U.S. troops in harm’s way, just to operate and defend it. And it would have contributed little to the mission that we had been assigned, and that was to protect and defend our embassy which was some 30 miles away.”
Calvert told Fox News that he is probing the entire matter, saying he has “a lot of questions I’m trying to get to,” such as “why didn’t we move or secure those prisoners in the first place? And who is going to take responsibility for this miscalculation? What are we doing to hunt down his accomplices?”
Calvert added that “you have thousands of these terrorists running around,” lamenting that the release of prisoners from Bagram “has undone decades of U.S. counterterrorism work.”