Western media appear to be downplaying a possible major development in the Kabul airport attack, writes Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
It appears in the 29th paragraph of a 39-paragraph New York Times story on Saturday about the aftermath of the suicide bombing at Kabul airport last week that killed more than 180 people, including 13 U.S. military personnel:
“For the first time, Pentagon officials publicly acknowledged the possibility that some people killed outside the airport on Thursday might have been shot by American service members after the suicide bombing.
Investigators are looking into whether the gunfire came from Americans at the gate, or from the Islamic State.”
A Pentagon official was asked at a briefing on Saturday about whether U.S. soldiers were involved in shooting at the crowd and he neither confirmed nor denied the story.
— Afshin Rattansi (@afshinrattansi) August 28, 2021
The Washington Post has so far made no mention of the possible U.S. shooting. In an article on Saturday on the names of the U.S. troops killed, it merely says the attack is being investigated. It links to a Pentagon press release that contains this single line: “The incident is under investigation.”
CNN’s only reference so far to shooting at the airport is this: “Speaking Thursday to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, journalist and author Matthieu Aikins said he could hear ‘shooting and sirens’ from the airport less than an hour after the attack.”
A BBC report on Saturday said: “According to one account, one attacker fired into a crowd of people, although reports also said Taliban guards had fired into the air.” There is no reference to possible U.S. involvement in the shooting.
However, BBC reporter Secunder Kermani in Kabul, in a video report on Friday, interviewed an eyewitness who said he saw U.S. and Turkish military men firing from a tower into the crowd. The text accompanying the video on the BBC site makes no mention of possible U.S. involvement. But Kermani pointed it out in this tweet on his personal account.
Our report from last night on the awful ISIS attack outside Kabul airport as families still search Kabul's morgues for their loved ones..
Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast pic.twitter.com/ac5nUVeJ4x
— Secunder Kermani (@SecKermani) August 28, 2021
According to this unverified video, a man claiming to be an Afghan solider blames the U.S. for shooting at the crowd from above. He says only 20 people were killed by the bomb and the rest by American bullets.
Faisal from Kabul Lovers channel interviewed the aid workers at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul:
"Most of the victims of the Kabul Airport Explosion were killed not by the explosion, but by American shooting." pic.twitter.com/BIlVdaxXMl
— HÜSEY?N AVN? KEMAL (@Haan2828) August 28, 2021
If the story of U.S. soldiers firing into the crowd after the suicide bombing is true, it would be a major development that deserves prominent media attention. Western news organizations with reporters on the ground have been publishing highly detailed accounts of events at the airport for days.
There are survivors of the attack, some of whom surely would have witnessed shooting into the crowd, such as the witness in the BBC report. They have a story to tell. And Western media have a job to do.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe