DES MOINES, Iowa – Two terrorist attacks by ISIS suicide bombers near a gate at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan claimed (at the time of this writing) the lives of 12 Marines and one Navy Corpsman (medic), as well as, at least 90 Afghans.
Iowa’s congressional delegation reacted to the news.
“First and foremost, my heart breaks for the families and loved ones of our brave troops who were killed in action. My prayers are with those who are grieving this loss of life and with our servicemembers who were wounded in these attacks,” U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a combat vet, said in a released statement.
She then blasted the Biden Administration response.
“It is abundantly clear those wishing to do the U.S. harm—Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Haqqani network, and the Taliban—are still in Afghanistan. The chaos, and now catastrophic bloodshed, that has ensued in Afghanistan over the last few weeks was brought on by the president’s haphazard and hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces. Pulling our troops out before ensuring the safety of American citizens, our partners and allies, and our military equipment was simply incompetent. Leaving the safety of Americans and our allies to the Taliban has been foolish and ill-advised from the start. The decisions by President Biden and his administration have undermined our national security and made America appear as a weak and unreliable partner,” Ernst stated.
She said that President Biden has a choice.
“President Biden has a choice: quit and leave innocent Americans and those who have willingly fought alongside us for 20 years to suffer in Afghanistan; or, fulfill his obligation and engage the might of the greatest military in the history of the world to bring Americans and our allies and partners to safety and project America’s strength on the global stage,” Ernst said.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the violence “stomach-turning.”
“It’s stomach-turning and heartbreaking to have lost twelve of our fellow Americans to a terrorist attack today as they worked to grant safe haven to their fellow Americans and Afghan partners. The justice awaiting those who were complicit in this cowardly attack should serve as a warning to anyone else who might dare to commit any further barbaric acts of violence against our people and our allies,” he said.
“Barbara and I pray for the families of those fallen American heroes, for our allies who also suffered from this attack, and for those continuing to serve our country with honor and bravery as this mission continues under dangerous circumstances,” Grassley added.
He noted the loss of life was avoidable.
“These tragic deaths; this perilous moment did not need to occur. Right now, our country’s focus should remain squarely on getting every single American and ally out of harm’s way. Politics can wait. But the day will come when questions about this disorganized and disastrous exit will have to be answered. Americans deserve accountability from leaders who ignored warnings and put us in this catastrophic situation,” Grassley stated.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, representing Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, held the president responsible.
“The devolving situation in Afghanistan is infuriating. Let’s be clear, President Biden has the blood of Americans on his hands and his Administration is failing the American people and our service members. No more laughing at questions, no more dismissing concerns, and no more dodging the facts. The Administration needs to wake up and step up to keep the American people, our service members, and our Afghan allies safe—now. This is a colossal failure and President Biden and every single person involved with the decisions made in Afghanistan should be brought before Congress to answer to the American people,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who represents Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, said she was heartbroken over the news.
“My heart is broken at the loss of our servicemembers in Afghanistan. I am praying for the safety of everyone in the immediate area and that we can get them all out of Afghanistan quickly and safely,” she said.
Miller-Meeks criticized the Biden Administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“This Administration has mishandled the withdrawal since the beginning. For months, I worked with a bipartisan group of members pushing President Biden to begin immediately evacuating American soldiers and citizens, as well as our Afghan partners. We were stonewalled. This withdrawal has been an operational and possible intelligence failure at every step. It is important to separate our need to bring troops home or “end a war” from how this withdrawal was executed. We should not have advertised our withdrawal strategy to the entire world just to fit an arbitrary and symbolic timeline,” she said.
“I want to tell every single American who served and worked in Afghanistan that their service and sacrifices are acknowledged, appreciated, and we are forever in their debt. Even during this withdrawal, our military has performed in exemplary fashion. They have kept our country safe for the last twenty years through their brave actions. Now we must do right by them and work to get every single American out of Afghanistan before there are more lives lost,” Miller-Meeks added.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, who represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, tweeted that she was heartbroken by the news and that she is praying.
Absolutely heartbroken at the news that U.S. servicemembers were killed earlier today by terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport in #Afghanistan.
My prayers are with them, their families, and the Americans and our allies who are still working to evacuate those in harm’s way. https://t.co/s8w7TwEDnY
— Rep. Cindy Axne (@RepCindyAxne) August 26, 2021
The Iowa Torch reached out to Axne’s office for a formal statement, but she discussed the withdrawal effort recently before the terrorist bombings.
She had supported the president’s approach. “Certainly, President Trump and the last administration determined it was time to remove the troops,” Axne said in an interview with KMA News on Wednesday. “I believe that our troops should come home. There was always an expectation that it wasn’t going to be an easy task. President Trump knew that, and President Biden knows that, as well. But, I would say both administrations knew how important it was to get our troops home, and to ensure that we protected what was built up for Afghanistan, and that every attempt has been made to do that.”
“I imagine the president, himself, believes this could have been done better. But, I appreciate his commitment to not continuing a war that’s gone on for nearly 20 years, especially since President Trump had already negotiated a withdrawal before President Biden took office,” she added.
Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann criticized Axne’s support of Biden.
“Since the onset of Joe Biden’s collapse of Afghanistan, Axne has been standing by his side, making excuses for him and having his back. After kowtowing to the Taliban, botched evacuations, and now explosions that have injured American military members, it’s time that Cindy Axne stand up to Biden and denounce his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, also expressed sorrow and anger over the news.
“I am heartbroken by the bloodshed that took place in Kabul earlier today. This was the deadliest attack in Afghanistan in a decade — 12 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans lost their lives. At least 100 more people were wounded. The Taliban now possess powerful U.S. military equipment, and President Biden has caved to the Taliban’s timeline for evacuating Americans. Reports also indicate the Biden administration even gave the Taliban a list of American civilians and Afghan allies, effectively providing a ruthless terrorist organization with a hit list,” he stated.
Feenstra called for a congressional investigation into the Biden Administration’s handling of the withdrawal and evacuation.
“It is with these sobering facts in mind that I believe we must immediately initiate a bipartisan, comprehensive congressional investigation. Those responsible, whether it is administration officials or the president, must be held accountable for their reckless actions and failed leadership,” he stated.
“May God bless and protect our troops, allies, and all Americans who are still in Afghanistan,” Feenstra added.