ISIS-K interview
© CNN
ISIS-K interview with Clarissa Ward • August 27/2021
CNN's airing of an interview with an ISIS-K commander left observers to wonder how the media outlet gained access to the terrorist leader - and protected his identity - two weeks before his group killed nearly 200 people.

The interview was aired on Saturday, with the "senior ISIS-K commander" telling CNN reporter Clarissa Ward at a hotel in Kabul that the group was "laying low and waiting for its moment to strike." That moment apparently arrived on Thursday, when a blast for which ISIS-K took responsibility killed 170 Afghans and 13 US servicemen outside the Kabul airport. Hundreds more were injured.

Ward called the commander's words "eerily prophetic," but social media users suggested that the statement was more of a plot than a prophecy, considering the commander was speaking of what his group was about to carry out. Others argued that CNN aided and abetted the Kabul attack by having advance notice and apparently doing nothing to help prevent it or lead US authorities to the terrorist commander.


But some found CNN's explanation of the interview unbelievable, calling it "quite fishy."

Adding to the irony, the CNN host who aired the interview was Anderson Cooper, the Vanderbilt heir who spent two summers as a CIA intern while he was a student at Yale University.

Other critics blasted CNN for giving airtime to a terrorist leader. One observer asked: "Who are they trying to protect, our people or the terrorist? These interviews seem odd to me as I think about the families of our fallen men and women." Another said CNN allowed ISIS-K to use the outlet as "a no-fee fundraising campaign."

CNN has previously criticized other media figures for giving a platform to newsmakers whose political views its leaders find objectionable. For instance, CNN's John Avlon earlier this month accused Fox News host Tucker Carlson of doing a "week-long infomercial for authoritarian nationalism" when he traveled to Budapest to interview Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The ISIS-K interview was not Ward's only strange encounter with Islamists in Afghanistan. She was mocked for an August 16 report in which she said of Taliban fighters behind her:
"They're just chanting 'death to America,' but they seem friendly at the same time."