In the latest round of verbal gymnastics over the Taliban, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to categorize the murder of American civilians at Kabul International Airport an act of “terrorism.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack on Friday, which killed three civilian contractors working for the U.S. government and wounded one other. The gunman was reportedly a member of Afghan security forces, who turned his weapon on his colleagues before being killed.
“He managed yesterday evening to attain his goal and opened fire with his rifle on a group of American occupiers,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said. The attacker was then “martyred by return fire.”
At Friday’s State Department briefing, Psaki was asked whether the U.S. government categorized the assault as terrorism.
“Obviously any attack that kills contractors – that kills individuals who are working there in harm’s way — is horrific and a tragedy,” she said. “But I’m not gonna put new labels on it today.”
The Obama administration is engaged in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban as it prepares to withdraw American forces from the region. U.S. policy has long been to avoid negotiations with terrorist groups.