Killing of Utah mayor in Afghanistan was planned, Army report says
By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 9, 2020
OGDEN, Utah — An Afghan commando who fatally shot a Utah mayor serving in the National Guard in 2018 had planned the killing for weeks, according to an Army investigative report.
U.S. Intelligence screeners failed to act swiftly enough on signs of the radicalization of the commando who was being trained by Maj. Brent Taylor, according to the report that was obtained through a public records request by the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah.
Taylor, 39, had taken a yearlong leave of absence as mayor of North Ogden for his deployment to Afghanistan.
Gen. Austin Scott Miller, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in the report's summary that officials identified numerous missed opportunities to prevent Taylor's death on Nov. 3, 2018, the Standard-Examiner reported Monday.
A person who had interviewed the shooter failed to act on several signs of potential radicalization, including his expressed disdain for Americans, the report said.
"We could and should have done better. We will learn from this tragedy," Miller said.
Miller agreed with most of the investigation's findings but disagreed with the conclusion that camp leadership had been lax on security.
Jennie Taylor, the major's wife, said she and other family members received a briefing about the investigation last fall. She told the newspaper that she is not bitter about missteps that may have played a part in her husband's death.
"People are not perfect and there were errors in the system," she said. "All of us can look at it as individuals and find room for improvement and find fault but not have bitterness. There's just not time in life for that bitterness."
The killing occurred while Brent Taylor and the trainees were on a weekly training hike, the report said. They were making a final turn back to camp when Sgt. Asfar Khan of the Afghan special forces Taylor was helping train fired two to three shots, hitting Taylor in the back of the head, officials said.
A fellow U.S. Army member on the hike was shot in the back but fired back at Khan. Afghan commandos shot Khan as he tried to escape, killing him.
After the killing, investigators discovered a nine-minute video on Khan's phone outlining his plans to kill Taylor. The report said the 20-year-old from Kabul and other commandos thought a police chief had been killed by Americans with the help of Aghan forces.
Khan said in the recording found on his phone that he had planned to kill Taylor as part of a plan to show he could be a leader of a movement to combat what they perceived as people trying to kill "all Muslims," the report said.
'"This group will not accept defeat until the Americans are defeated ... and we will never surrender alive," the report said, citing the recording.
Insider attacks against U.S. troops by member of the Afghan security forces have been a recurring problem for years, prompting U.S. commanders to take stronger protective measures.