Before finally leaving the Kabul airport in the wake of the chaos created by President Joe Biden's mishandled withdrawal from Afghanistan, U.S. Marines were given an important task: Destroy things that might be useful to the Taliban, the Washington Post reported this week. A job they were apparently happy to do.
They were also reportedly given a less-than-great task: Clean up graffiti at the Kabul airport that was insulting to the Taliban, as well as pick up trash.
This, according to the Post, was seen as a "slap in the face" to the Marines.
In the days leading up to the final troops on the ground getting aboard aircraft and leaving the South Asian country, where the U.S. had been at war for nearly two decades following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a suicide bomber killed 13 American service members and nearly 200 Afghans.
U.S. Marines were the ones who, after the blast, the Post reported, "picked through the carnage to recover equipment and bloody uniforms — and prevent militants from claiming a trophy."
As Biden's plan ramped up to get everyone out of Afghanistan — minus hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans and tens of thousands of U.S. allies — so did the many last-minute tasks for U.S. Marines at the Kabul airport. Some of them they took pleasure in.
"Troops were directed to destroy equipment that the United States planned to leave behind — a form of catharsis after the bombing," the Post said. "They took sledgehammers to electronics, smashed windows and stripped armored vehicles to keep the Taliban from using them."
Troops also spray-painted obscene messages for the Taliban on walls at the airport. On Sept. 1, Task & Purpose posted some images of some of the "art" that had made its way to social media — but has since been deleted.
One photo reportedly showed "Marines with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment standing in front of spray painted messages to the Islamic State group (ISIS) and the Taliban. They were very direct: 'F*** ISIS. AFG 2021," Task & Purpose said.
Another photo showed a Marine in front of a graffitied wall with the message, "F*** ISIS + Taliban," featuring a crude drawing of a penis.
Content warning: crude imagery
But American commanders were not about to let the Taliban-taunting graffiti or the trash at the airport stay, the Post reported, over concern that they could somehow impact flights the Taliban were allowing out of the region.
Though it is unclear who specifically painted the messages, the higher-ups ordered Marines to clean up the trash and graffiti mess before leaving.
"My boys had to go ... pick up every last piece of ... trash for who? The Taliban?" one Marine told the Post. "It was a slap in the face to us."
Ultimately, the Marines collected all the trash and painted over the messages to the Taliban.