But the 436-page report by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations also found that Gul had become increasingly radicalized in recent years, had attended an extremist mosque in Pakistan and told relatives that he wanted to “kill Americans.” Some Afghan military leaders told U.S. investigators that they were alarmed by his changed views and attitude, yet there was no sign that they did anything to intervene.
The April 27 rampage was the deadliest attack on U.S. Air Force personnel since 1996, when a truck bomb blew up the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S service members.
Most of those who died in the Kabul attack were assigned to training the fledgling Afghan Air Force, and their deaths fanned fears that insurgents had once again infiltrated the ranks of the Afghan military.
The incident underscored the risks and fragility of the Obama administration’s strategy to train and expand Afghan security forces loyal to President Hamid Karzai so they can fill the void left by departing U.S. and NATO troops. While Afghan officials are supposed to screen recruits and have beefed up counterintelligence programs to detect Taliban sympathizers, acts of betrayal have undermined trust between Afghan forces and their coalition trainers.
Although two Afghan service members were shot and three others injured in the Kabul melee, the Air Force investigation makes it clear that Gul singled out U.S. officers who had mentored their Afghan colleagues and shouted warnings to his countrymen to save themselves. No Afghans died in the attack.
“Good Muslims — please stay away!” Gul shouted from a window of the Air Command and Control Center at the Kabul Airport as Afghan security forces rushed to the scene of the gunshots. “Muslims, don’t come close or you will be killed!”
Gul paused at one point during the shooting and dipped his fingers in blood, the investigation found. Along a hallway, he scrawled “Allah is one” on a wall in Dari, a Persian dialect widely spoken in Afghanistan. On the opposite wall, he painted the words, “Allah in your name.”
He then walked up a flight of stairs, sat on a couch and fatally shot himself in the chest.
Investigators said that Gul killed seven U.S. Air Force officers: Maj. Philip D. Ambard, Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, Maj. David L. Brodeur, Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, Capt. Nathan J. Nylander and Maj. Charles A. Ransom.