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Yes Virginia, Biden and the Pentagon lied. New evidence challenges the Pentagon’s account of a horrific attack as the US withdrew from Afghanistan.

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Yes Virginia, Biden and the Pentagon lied. New evidence challenges the Pentagon’s account of a horrific attack as the US withdrew from Afghanistan.

“He spoke fluently Dari,” he said. “He told me, ‘What are you doing, Doctor? You love your life. You love your family. This is not good when you are collecting that data. It would make a big dangerous situation for you. You should stop that as soon as possible.’”

The man called another time to repeat the warning, and Ahmadi advised his team to stop recording data and destroy the evidence they had collected.

The Pentagon, in response to Ahmadi’s initial anonymous statement to CNN in 2022 that he had treated gunshot wounds, said that he was mistaken. They said bullet and ball-bearing injuries are hard to distinguish – a claim disputed by multiple combat medics who spoke to CNN, and by Ahmadi himself.

Ahmadi said he was never approached by American investigators.

“I hope one day they ask me,” he said. “Now I am safe. I feel well… Sometimes just this secret that I have in my mind haunts me.”

Pentagon spokesman Lodewick said no Afghans were interviewed for the original AR 15-6 investigation “because its scope and focus on US operations did not demand it.” He said the supplemental review was “even more refined” in its scope, focusing more on events before the blast and the bomber, “and again presented no overwhelming need for the pursuit of external Afghan-centric information.”

A wounded patient is brought by taxi to the hospital in Kabul on the day of the attack.

Accounts from US servicemen of the aftermath have often been dismissed by officials as the product of blast concussion, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). As Marine survivors leave active duty and continue to struggle with their trauma and an official narrative that jars with their personal experience, their dissent has grown.

CNN spoke with about ten Marines anonymously, many of whom described hearing gunfire and feeling under attack from it. Some have reported seeing what they thought was a militant gunman. The Pentagon has insisted no other gunmen opened fire in the area at the time of the attack, bar US and UK troops. No American or Afghan witness has specifically stated they directly saw a militant open fire.

One Marine, who decided to speak out of conscience and requested anonymity, fearing reprisals for his account, has become the first American eyewitness to describe shots fired from where US personnel were located. He said that the burst of gunfire after the explosion – heard by witnesses on the ground and audible in the new video – came from the area around the Abbey Gate sniper tower, where US Marines were grouped.

While he could not be certain the Marines had fired directly into the crowd of Afghan civilians in front of them, he said: “They would not have fired into the air.” Marines had been told to not fire warnings shots, he said, as these rounds fired in the air often landed later in civilian areas. “It wasn’t a direct order,” he added. “But it was a common understanding: no warning shots.” He said he did not think any of the shots fired in the four-minute window of gunfire audible on the new video would have been warning shots.

A Marine eyewitness told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh (left) that the burst of gunfire after the explosion – heard by witnesses on the ground and audible in the new video – came from the area around the Abbey Gate sniper tower, where US Marines were grouped.

Public orders issued in the Navy in December 2020 banned warning shots unless specifically permitted on deployment. The Pentagon’s report said Marines from the 2/1 unit that made up most of those on the scene “did not use warning shots and only used flash bang grenades infrequently.” The Marine said he did not see any US military open fire and did not fire himself.

The Marine calmly described key details of blast and its aftermath, but became emotional when discussing the Pentagon’s investigations, including what he described as a lack of transparency about what happened, and the possible role Marine gunfire played in raising the Afghan civilian death toll.

But he defended the immediate response of his colleagues under attack. “The reaction that the Marines had was a reaction that I believe anybody trained to do in that scenario would have had,” he said, suggesting they were in the first phase of the three-stage practice of RTR – Returning fire, Taking cover and then Returning accurate fire.

“You’ve got to think, these are kids,” he said. “They’re young. And they’ve only been taught what they’ve been taught. Some of these kids had been with the unit for quite literally two, three months prior to deployment. They didn’t have the training to be able to recognize some of the things that, you know, might have occurred – nor could you have the training for what had happened on August 26. Or really what happened in Kabul.”

He said the significant gunfire response from Marines after the blast was common knowledge among Marine survivors, even though it was not spoken of publicly. “It’s incredibly weird,” he said. “It’s frustrating, you know? Why hide from what happened?”

Reacting to the Pentagon’s dismissal of accounts from US personnel who recalled gunfire as the product of TBI, the Marine said: “It’s a pathetic excuse. To say that every Marine, every soldier, every Navy corpsman on the deck has a traumatic brain injury and cannot remember gunfire is, is lunacy. It’s outright disrespectful. And especially for it to come from somebody that wasn’t there.”

“To the Afghani [sic] families – I’m sorry that after 20 years of war, that that is the way that this (was) conducted. And that we weren’t able to uphold a promise that we gave your people after removing the Taliban in 2001. And it should not have ended like that.”

Evacuees aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during the Afghanistan evacuation from Kabul on August 21, 2021.

Many of the 10 other Marines with whom CNN spoke anonymously also describe gunfire. One told CNN that he ran through a hole in the fence outside the Abbey Gate in the minute after the blast to assist with the wounded. As he emerged, he said, he heard suppressed rifle fire nearby from another Marine. Many US Marines’ rifles were fitted with suppressors, reducing the noise of their fire, according to footage from the incident.

“I would probably say five, 10 meters away from me, was where it was,” he said. He said the Marine firing was not from his own unit, and after he had opened fire, “whoever was shooting at us wasn’t shooting at us anymore.”

Another Marine told CNN he was about 20 meters (65 feet) from the blast. “There was definitely, shooting,” he said. “Snapping over our heads after the blast and it wasn’t the Taliban.” He said he used his rifle optic to look at the Taliban, who were some distance away on nearby shipping containers used to control access to the Abbey Gate area. “When I looked over at them, none of them were holding their guns. They looked just as shocked as us.” Other US servicemen who said they witnessed gunfire in the aftermath of the bombing have spoken out on social media.

Sgt. Romel Finley, who received a Purple Heart, said that another sergeant ordered US troops into position to open fire after the bomb blast. Finley told The Brrks YouTube channel, a social media account run by a former Marine and Master Barber which interviews active or former Marines, that he recalled, while being dragged from the scene, “My platoon sergeant running past us, saying ‘get back on that wall and shoot back at those motherf**kers.’ So I was like, we are in a gunfight too.”

Finley, who sustained significant leg injuries in the attack, added that he did not witness Marines firing, or responding to the order. He declined to comment to CNN, as did his platoon sergeant. CNN is withholding the names of Marines who did not specifically consent to being identified in interviews.

Christian Sanchez, another Marine survivor, who was injured in his left arm, told the same Brrks Barber channel that he opened fire after the blast. “All I see is flashes. And all I could hear was ringing. Like all hear is ringing and f**king flashes going on. And I start hearing snaps. And I start realizing that that’s a f**king dude shooting at me,” he said. “And I just started shooting at the dude,” he added, breaking down. Sanchez also declined to speak to CNN about his recollections and it is unclear if he specifically saw the purported militant gunman open fire. Another American military survivor who spoke to CNN said he had endured two years of “leadership saying what you saw was basically not the truth.” He summarized the two investigations as: “Shut your mouth. We’ll talk for you.”

Significant gaps remain in the evidence presented by the Pentagon. Investigators have only released five edited minutes of drone footage from the aftermath, which they said supported their findings that no gunfire hit anyone.

A recent congressional hearing for the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and then-Central Command Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie ended with Congressman Darrell Issa presenting the two generals with a list of unpublished video that, under a Freedom of Information Act request, the Pentagon had admitted they held. The generals told the session they had seen the videos, and that it should be released to congressional investigators.




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