In Afghanistan, the United States military on Thursday dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever—the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, nicknamed “The Mother of All Bombs”—on the Achin district near the Pakistan border. The 21,600-pound bomb reportedly unleashed an explosion equivalent to 11 tons of TNT with a mile-wide blast radius. Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Military Times, “What [it] does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged the attack.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “The GBU-43 is a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon. We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area. … The United States took all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation.”
Thursday’s blast was so powerful that it shook the ground in neighboring districts. A parliamentarian from Nangarhar province told The Guardian the explosion killed a teacher and his young son. Other Afghan officials said 36 ISIS fighters were killed. The U.S.-backed former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, denounced Thursday’s attack, saying, “This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.” Marc Garlasco, a Bush-era Pentagon official, told The Intercept the weapon was built for use in Iraq but never used “due to collateral damage concerns.” At the White House, President Trump said he was “very, very proud” of those who carried out the bombing.
Reporter: “Did you authorize it, sir?”
President Donald Trump: “Everybody knows exactly what happened, so—and what I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a job, as usual. So, we have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing. And, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”
Democratic Congressmember Barbara Lee of California said in a statement, “President Trump owes the American people an explanation about his escalation of military force in Afghanistan and his long-term strategy to defeat ISIS.” We’ll have more on the attack in Afghanistan after headlines.