one other terrorist assault in Afghanistan thought-about doubtless
WASHINGTON – Specific, credible terrorist threats by ISIS-K to U.S. troops and civilians fleeing Afghanistan continued on Friday after Thursday’s devastating attack on Kabul airport that killed 13 American soldiers and dozen of Afghans, according to the Pentagon became.
Senior Pentagon officials have indicated that more suicide attacks by people with explosives on their bodies or bomb-laden vehicles are among their top concerns.
But ISIS-Khorasan is aiming for more than suicide bombings, according to a former senior military intelligence official familiar with the group. Downing an aircraft filled with troops or evacuees is the kind of terrifying, spectacular attack they are aiming for, said retired Army Major General Mark Quantock, who oversaw military intelligence for U.S. Central Command.
“You pose an extreme threat to our evacuation mission,” said Quantock.
To learn:Brutal IS-K offshoot in Afghanistan poses terrorist threat to US evacuation
Afghanistan at the latest: Another attack in Kabul is “likely” with a “credible threat” at the airport
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the central command overseeing operations in Afghanistan, said the intelligence services indicate “extremely active threat tribes against the airfield”.
McKenzie and Quantock rated the most likely attacks by ISIS-K.
Thursday’s horrific attack began with a suicide bomber detonating explosives amid a crowd of Afghans at the airport’s Abbey Gate and US troops searching them before entering the airfield. More ISIS-K terrorists followed with gunfire, Army Major General William Taylor, director of regional operations for the Joint Staff, said Friday. The military calls multiple enemies using different weapons a “complex attack,” a trademark of ISIS-K and other terrorist groups. In such attacks, terrorists try to kill as many as possible with the explosion and shoot down those who react or flee.
“We also know that if they can, they’ll go for a vehicle suicide attack,” McKenzie said. “From a small vehicle to a large vehicle, they work with all of these options. Then we just saw their ability to deliver a walk-in. A suicide in a vest, a suicide bomber. “
Quantock estimated ISIS-K’s strength to be no more than a few thousand fighters. They come from disaffected Al Qaeda and Taliban members who believe their leaders are not militant enough or that they have colluded with the United States and Western nations, he said. They are seasoned fighters.
“Their skills came from years of fighting before joining ISIS-K,” said Quantock. “You probably have a stall full of suicide bombers ready. ISIS-K has intent and skill – a deadly combination.”
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Rocket and mortar attacks
Hamid Karzai International Airport represents a tiny island of US military land in a teeming, chaotic city. About 5,000 evacuees and a similar number of American troops were at the airfield along with cargo planes and planes on Friday. Missiles or mortars fired by ISIS-K or other militants could cause huge casualties, damage aircraft and damage the airport’s only runway.
The Taliban have taken responsibility for securing Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan. They would form the first line of defense against a team setting up a rocket launcher. The military has a multitude of spy planes overhead to monitor suspicious activity, McKenzie said. These include MQ-9 Reaper drones, which provide surveillance and can fire Hellfire missiles at targets.
There are systems to repel missile attacks at the airfield, he said.
“We know they’d like to throw a missile in there if they could,” McKenzie said. “Now we actually have pretty good protection against it. We have our missile and mortar defense systems, the cannon systems … which are pretty effective against these types of attacks. We’ve positioned them well around the boundary of the airfield. We’ll be in good shape Constitutional should such an attack occur. “
McKenzie said terrorists shot at US military planes without harming them and that the attacks are expected to continue.
“The safety of our incoming and outgoing aircraft is of the utmost importance,” he said. “Because you obviously have the possibility there – 450 or more people to die if you have a significant plane mishap. We know ISIS would like to pursue those planes if it can.”
More:Horrific warnings, then explosions and US deaths: How a terrorist attack played out at Kabul airport
Military aircraft have self-defense systems, he said. This includes the firing of flares that can divert heat-seeking missiles. Charter aircraft and commercial aircraft that lack such countermeasures are more susceptible, he said.
Quantock reiterated McKenzie’s concern about attacks on evacuation flights.
“My concern would be surface-to-air missiles,” said Quantock. Quantock also expressed concern about large-caliber automatic weapons being fired at aircraft on landing and take-off.
The only thing that seems certain now is that Thursday’s attack will encourage ISIS-K terrorists to try again.
President Joe Biden was informed Friday that “another terrorist attack is likely in Kabul but that they are taking maximum protective measures at Kabul airport,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
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