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WASHINGTON — A veteran Afghan military pilot acted alone when he killed eight U.S. airmen and a civilian contractor last year at Kabul International Airport, according to an Air Force investigation released Monday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the April 27 shooting by Col. Ahmed Gul, who died during the attack that also wounded several Afghans.

But Gul’s relatives told the media he had been depressed and was not affiliated with insurgents, and coworkers told investigators they didn’t believe he had been a religious radical.

At least one person interviewed, however, told investigators that Gul had begun to follow the teachings of the Taliban in the 1990s and had later said he “wanted to kill Americans.”

Gul opened fire with his pistol during a morning meeting at Afghan air force headquarters, shooting each American victim multiple times, according to the investigation. Gul was then shot by “first responders” soon after the attack began. Wounded, he wrote messages, including “God is one,” in blood on walls of the headquarters building in Dari, a Persian dialect. He then climbed to a higher floor of the building and killed himself with two gunshots to the torso, the report said.

The investigation did not establish a motive for what it said were premeditated shootings, but multiple witnesses told investigators that Gul had personal issues that might have been compounded by financial worries.

Investigators ruled out one rumored motive, as well as accounts that circulated afterward that he carried out slow, methodical executions of the victims.

According to a statement released by the Air Force, investigators’ findings “do not support initial media coverage of the event that reported an argument may have occurred earlier that day between the shooter and the American servicemembers, nor reports that the gunman disarmed and methodically killed the Airmen.”

Killed in the attack were Maj. Philip D. Ambard, of Edmonds, Wash; Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, of Gadsden, Ala.; Maj. David L. Brodeur, of Auburn, Mass.; Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, of Deltona, Fla.; Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., of Knoxville, Tenn.; Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, of New Haven, Conn.; Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, of Hockley, Texas; Maj. Charles A. Ransom, of Midlothian, Va.; and James McLaughlin Jr., of Santa Rosa, Calif., a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel working as a civilian contractor.

“These Airmen paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation in a combat zone,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in a statement accompanying the investigation. “Each of these Airmen bravely and purposely performed their duties, and their selfless sacrifices leave behind an honorable legacy that we continue to see in the commitment of Airmen who serve as air advisers today.”

carrollc@stripes.osd.mil

Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_


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