H.R. McMaster Suggests Taliban Possibly Incited Kabul Attack: An Effort to 'Humiliate' U.S.

Former Trump administration National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster suggested that the Taliban may have incited Thursday's deadly Kabul airport attack as part of an effort to "humiliate" the U.S. in the final days of its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Speaking on an episode of PBS' Firing Line With Margaret Hoover that aired Friday, McMaster said that the suicide bombing that killed over 160 Afghans and 13 U.S. military service members outside of Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport may have been a collaboration between Jihadist groups.

"The victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan is a victory for all jihadist terrorists, including Al Qaeda, and including ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K). These groups often overlap, right? They share resources, they share people, they share bomb making expertise. I would not be surprised if this was an attack that was incited by the Taliban with the cutout of trying to use ISIS-K," McMaster said in the interview.

"I really think that this is an effort to humiliate the world's only superpower on our way out of Afghanistan after we surrendered to the Taliban," he added.

NEW: @LTGHRMcMaster suggests the deadly suicide attack in Kabul may have been "incited by the Taliban with the cutout of trying to use ISIS-K."

"I really think that this is an effort to humiliate the world's only superpower on our way out of #Afghanistan after we surrendered." pic.twitter.com/k6bUBxKVhH

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) August 27, 2021

McMaster's comments come after ISIS-K took credit for Thursday's deadly blast, in which a suicide bomber detonated a bomb as U.S. troops were screening Afghans at the airport's Abbey Gate. In response, the Taliban immediately condemned the attack.

"The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement shared on Twitter. "The Islamic Emirate is very concerned about the security and protection of its people. The evil circles will be stopped in full force."

In contrast to McMaster's statements, Ivan Sascha Sheehan, an associate professor executive director of the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Baltimore, told Newsweek Friday: "There is little love lost between ISIS-K and the Taliban and, in fact, the groups are highly competitive.... The militants undermine the Taliban's consolidation of power."

Less than 48 hours after the attack, U.S. military officials said they have killed one of the planners of the suicide bombing in a retaliatory unmanned airstrike. The operation occurred in the country's Nangahar Province along the country's east-central border, about 125 miles east of Kabul.

The airstrike came after Biden pledged to "hunt down" and punish those who carried out the attack, as well as anyone who wishes the U.S. harm.

In response to the U.S. airstrike, a Taliban spokesman said Saturday that the group has "heard the reports about the Nangarhar incident, but we are trying to find the type of the incident and the casualties. After an investigation, we will react to that," The New York Times reported.

Taliban
H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser, suggested that the Taliban may have incited the deadly Kabul airport bombing. Here, Taliban fighters block a road with a Humvee vehicle near Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28, 2021, following the Taliban stunning military takeover of Afghanistan. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

The Kabul airport attack came just two weeks after the Taliban rapidly took control of Afghanistan following a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The incident came as the U.S. continues to evacuate citizens and Afghan allies from the country, and after the U.S. Embassy in Kabul sent an alert urging citizens to avoid the airport due to potential terrorist threats.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that American officials believe that another terrorist attack in Kabul is likely. "The threat is ongoing and it is active. Our troops are still in danger," she said.

Newsweek contacted the White House for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.