Group White House Says Doesn't Qualify as "Terrorists" Kills Three Americans in Afghanistan

Posted: Jan 30, 2015 9:00 AM

In case you missed it earlier this week, the White House is now trying to argue that the Taliban is a not a terrorist organization but rather an "armed insurgency." 

Just one day after White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz made that claim, three Americans were killed in Afghanistan by members of the Taliban. 

The Afghan-based organization on Friday to credit for an attack that killed three American contractors and said it was carried out by a fighter who had infiltrated Afghanistan's security forces.

The attack came Thursday evening at a military base at Kabul's international airport, and also left one Afghan dead. The Taliban's claim of responsibility came in a message on Friday from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who identified the attacker as a man named "Hessanullha," from Laghman province, just east of Kabul. Hessanullha "penetrated into the security forces and was waiting for such a target for a long time," Mujahid said.

"Yesterday in the evening he managed to get to a crowd of invading and infidel American military forces where he turned his gun towards them and opened fire," he added. "During the gun battle, Ehsanullah was also killed by the enemy."

As Conn reported yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to clarify Schultz' remarks, saying the Taliban carries out acts "akin to terrorism," but would not concede they are in fact a terrorist group.

As a reminder, the Taliban has been classified as a terrorist organization since 2002.

Tuesday White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden noted that the Taliban was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) by executive order in July 2002, even if it is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the State Department. Either designation triggers asset freezes, according to the State Department, though they can differ on other restrictions imposed on the target organization. The Treasury Department told ABC News the Taliban is still on their SDGT list.