The House Foreign Affairs Committee held an emotional hearing Wednesday as witnesses recounted the Biden administration’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal over one year later.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who was wounded while he was stationed at Kabul’s Abbey Gate, gave tearful testimony claiming he was never explicitly granted permission to shoot a suspected ISIS member.
Vargas-Andrews said he believes that suspect was the bomber who took the lives of 13 service members during the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
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“Pointedly, we asked him for engagement authority and permission,” Vargas-Andrews told the committee. “We asked him if we could shoot. Our battalion commander said, and I quote, I don’t know, end quote. Myself and my team we asked very harshly, ‘Well, who does?’ Because this is your responsibility, sir. He again replied he did not know, but would find out. We received no update and never got our answer. Eventually, the individual disappeared.”
“To this day, we believe he was a suicide bomber,” he continued.
Two Gold Star mothers, Shana Chappell and Paula Knauss Selph, reacted to the emotionally-charged testimony on “Fox & Friends First.”
“I actually got really emotional while I was hearing the testimony and ended up becoming even more upset when I realized that the whole thing could have been prevented,” Chappell told Ashley Strohmier on Thursday.
Chappell’s son, 20-year-old California Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, was one of the 13 service members who died in the Kabul airport attack on August 26, 2021.
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She noted the House hearing confirmed what she already knew – that service members were “running amuck” amid the chaotic withdrawal with little strategic direction.
“I’ve talked to several of the Marines that were there throughout the last 19 months, and they’ve all said the same thing… basically they were just running amuck,” Chappell said. “They were just doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing, and they didn’t really have a general direction of what they were supposed to do.”
“They were asking each other what they were supposed to be doing,” she continued.
Selph’s son, 23-year-old Ryan Knauss, was an Army staff sergeant from Tennessee who also lost his life in the August terrorist attack. He was based out of North Carolina.
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But Selph said her son “knew what he was getting into” before departing for Kabul.
“When Ryan left and was finally on site as an Army Special Forces, he only had a short while to adjust to what was going on,” Selph said. “But the one thing he said to me before he left was, ‘Mom, I can’t tell you where I’m going, but all you have to do is turn on the TV, and it’s going to be an s-show… that you’re going to see.’ So he knew what he was getting into.”
Chappell and Selph both demanded accountability from the Biden administration for the chaotic exit that took the lives of their children.
“After listening to everybody talk, I’m hoping that we do actually get some type of accountability… I don’t get my hopes up too much because… I don’t want to make this political, so I just don’t get my hopes up too much,” Chappell said.
Strohmier then asked her what accountability would look like.
“This administration being removed,” she replied.
Selph concurred, noting how “alarming” it is that justice is on the horizon a whopping year and a half later.
“Our president, our Congress must take responsibility for the lack of what they have not done since the death of our children,” Selph said. “It is an alarming thing to see that in all these months we are now finally having justice because the administration is forced by Congress now to look at this with more open eyes.”
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