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The State Department on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, announced a reward of up to $10 million for information about Sanaullah Ghafari, also known as Shahab al-Muhajir, the leader of the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group that was responsible for the August blast that killed 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans at the Kabul airport.

The State Department on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, announced a reward of up to $10 million for information about Sanaullah Ghafari, also known as Shahab al-Muhajir, the leader of the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group that was responsible for the August blast that killed 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans at the Kabul airport. (State Department)

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday announced a reward of up to $10 million for information about the leader of the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group that was responsible for the August blast that killed 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans at the Kabul airport.

The U.S. is seeking information about Sanaullah Ghafari, also known as Shahab al-Muhajir, who leads the branch called ISIS-Khorasan.

The terrorist group was behind the Aug. 26 suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 11 Marines, a sailor and a soldier during an evacuation mission in the final weeks of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

“[Ghafari] is responsible for approving all ISIS-K operations throughout Afghanistan and arranging funding to conduct operations,” the State Department said in a statement announcing the reward.

ISIS appointed Ghafari, 27, as the emir for the group’s Afghanistan branch in June 2020, according to the State Department, which made him a specially designated global terrorist in November.

“Terrorist designations expose and isolate entities and individuals and prevent them from exploiting the U.S. financial system,” the State Department said in a statement at the time. “Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other relevant enforcement entities and governments.”

Pentagon officials on Friday said the Aug. 26 attack was likely carried out by one person who detonated a bomb packed with ball bearings in a tightly crowded area at the airport’s Abbey gate.

“The disturbing lethality of this device was confirmed by the 58 U.S. service members who were killed and wounded despite the universal wear of body armor and helmets that did stop ball bearings that impacted them but could not prevent catastrophic injuries to areas not covered,” said Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is the commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

An ISIS statement announcing Ghafari’s ISIS-K leadership in June described him as “an experienced military leader and one of ISIS-K’s ‘urban lions’ in Kabul who has been involved in guerrilla operations and the planning of suicide and complex attacks,” according to the State Department.

Those with information on Ghafari can send tips via Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp to 202-702-7843, according to the State Department.

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.
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