Taliban Claims Responsibility For Attack Which Killed 3 Americans, As White House Denies Fighters Are Terrorists

Chuck Ross | Reporter

A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for a shooting at a military airport in Kabul on Thursday which left three American contractors dead.

The attack comes as the White House is refusing to call the Taliban a terrorist organization, opting instead for the softer label of “armed insurgency.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, sent several tweets claiming that a Taliban “infiltrator” had carried out the attack at the Kabul airport. Initial reports did not conclude who was responsible for the attack though a man wearing an Afghan military uniform was suspected in the shooting.

 

 

In another tweet, translated to English, Mujahid wrote: “At the end of the attack, Ghazi Ihsanullah drank the cup of martyrdom and heroism of course true and real Islam taught to those security cable.”

Mujahid’s tweet suggests that the Taliban shooter died during the incident.

The White House has come under heavy criticism this week for refusing to denounce the Taliban as a terrorist group. The issue was broached amid news that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could face charges for desertion for leaving his unit in Afghanistan in 2009.

Berghdal eventually fell into the hands of the Taliban. Last May he was swapped for five Taliban captains being held in Guantanamo Bay.

If the Taliban were considered a terrorist organization, conducting negotiations to exchange Bergdahl would violate the U.S.’s longstanding posture against negotiating with terrorists. (RELATED: White House Claims Taliban Not a Terrorist Organization. Wait. What?)

During a White House press conference on Wednesday, spokesman Eric Schultz steadfastly maintained that the Taliban were “armed insurgents” rather than terrorists. On Thursday, before the Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting in Kabul, White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest was pressed on the distinction as well.

“They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism, they do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda,” Earnest said, while adding that “they have a different classification.”

In another attack on Thursday, the Taliban carried out a suicide bombing at a funeral which killed 16 and wounded approximately 40 others.

Also on Thursday, CNN reported that one of the Taliban leaders exchanged for Bergdahl is suspected of discussing returning to militant activity with fellow Taliban in Afghanistan.

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