Threat of car bomb attack 'high' at Kabul airport says Central Command

Pentagon says risk of an ISIS-K car bomb attack is ‘high’ and they want to shoot down PLANES as US sends out F-15s, Apache attack helicopters and reaper drones to begin hunt for would-be attackers

  • McKenzie spoke about steps the U.S. is taking to bolster security at the airport in Kabul
  • He confirmed the deaths of 12 U.S. troops
  • Identified ISIS-K was ‘assessed’ to be behind the bomb attack
  • Said terrorists want to ‘lob’ a rocket at the base
  • Forces have also fired at outgoing aircraft
  • He said U.S. has reached out to Taliban to push out perimeter and close some roads 

The threat of a car bomb attack on the airport in Kabul is ‘high,’ the Marine General who heads Central Command revealed Thursday even as the military continues to push through evacuations after a ‘suicide’ bomb attack.

Marine Gen. Kennth McKenzie told reporters that a vehicle bomb is one of several threats confronting the airport in what is scheduled to be the final days of the U.S. evacuation.

 McKenzie, who called ISIS-K the likely perpetrator of the attack, said enemies are also interested in launching rocket attacks on the airport to try to disrupt the evacuation and kill Americans.   

‘We know that they would like to lob a rocket in there if they could,’ he said, outlining three major potential threats.

He also said terrorists are working to a ‘suicide vehicle’ of small to large size in proximity to the airport and the crowds. ‘They’re working all those options,’ McKenzie said.

Marine Gen. Kennth McKenzie warned that ISIS was seeking to carry out car bomb and other suicide attacks, while listing the threat posed by potential rocket attacks meant to target the U.S. evacuation in Kabul 

A third option is the one that appears to have succeeded: a person armed with a suicide vest.

‘We’ve just seen their ability to deliver a walk-in,’ he said. 

The U.S. is adjusting to the new threats. To counter the rocket threat, there are and-rocket and mortar capabilities he called ‘pretty effective.’ He said there is a well-positioned boundary.

He said the U.S. ‘cut down the info we give the Taliban,’ but also stressed the key role Taliban checkpoints provide in the security situation. 

‘We also use the Taliban as a tool to protect us as much as possible,’ he said. He says the U.S. ‘reached out to the Taliban’ to get it to continue to push out the boundaries of security. He says the U.S. ‘identified some roads that we would like for them to close.’

The U.S. is taking new precautions at the crowded airport in Kabul

Gen. McKenzie said the evacuation mission would continue

McKenzie said ISIS-K was assessed to be behind the bomb attack

A member of ther US military speaks with Afghan evacuees at the US Air Base Ramstein, Germany on August 26, 2021.’There’s no substitute for a young man or woman, a young U.S. man or woman conducting a search’ at the airport, said McKenzie

McKenzie said the U.S. had asked the Taliban to push back checkpoints, as he confirmed 12 U.S. service members had been kiilled

A military aircraft takes off at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 26 August 2021

The military also has drones overhead providing surveillance and security, as well as manned aircraft. He specifically mentioned MQ-9 Reaper drones, which provide high-altitude armed surveillance. The military also AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, F-15 jets, and AC-130 gunships in the air.

McKenzie said the gunship has a ‘very highly capable targeting system.’ He called it a ‘very visible platform,’ adding: ‘We know from long experience that visual demonstrations of this kind of ISR tends to dissuade the attacker because they know that if we can see them and do it, we’re going to strike them immediately.’

‘We will be prepared to do that should it become necessary to defend the base,’ he said. 

But McKenzie said checkpoints manned by U.S. troops to search people entering the airport for potential threats – were vital, despite the risks of exposure.

‘There’s no substitute for a young man or woman, a young U.S. man or woman conducting a search,’ he said. 

McKenzie also pointed to the threat of outgoing aircraft – which could result in a mass-casualty event.

‘They have taken shots at our aircraft on occasion, without affect. We think that’s going to continue,’ he predicted.

 McKenzie confirmed 12 US soldiers have died and at least 15 have been injured in attacks. They include 11 US marines and a Navy medic. 

‘As you know, two suicide bombers, assessed to be ISIS fighters, detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey Gate at the airport and in the vicinity of the Baron Hotel.

‘The attack on the Abbey Gate was followed by an attack by ISIS gunmen, who opened fire on civilian and US forces. 

‘At this time, we know that 12 US service members have been killed in the attack and another 15 have been injured. A number of Afghan civilians were also killed or injured.’ 

‘We continue to focus on the protectsion of our forces and the evacuees,’ he said in opening remarks. 

‘While we are saddened by the loss of life,’ he said, ‘we will continue to execute the mission.’ 

McKenzie said he was not seeking additional troops, saying ‘we have what we need to protect ourselves.’ 

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