The heartbroken father of a Marine who died in a roadside car bomb attack in Afghanistan last year says there’s ‘no way’ the president didn’t know about intelligence that Russian bounties were being placed on deployed American troops.
Erik Hendriks, the father of Cpl. Robert A, Hendriks, 25, wants answers about the circumstances surrounding his son’s tragic death and is calling out the president for failing to protect troops.
‘I am a Republican and I am a Trump supporter. But there would be no way he didn’t know about it if Russians were paying off these cowards like mafia pay off hit men. I would expect the government to have 1,000 percent support behind these warriors,’ he said to the New York Times.
Corporal Hendriks, along with Marines Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, of New York and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of Pennsylvania, died when their armored vehicle was hit by a vehicle loaded with explosives near Bagram Air Base, about 20 miles north of Kabul last year.
The investigation into Russia’s suspected bounty operation is focused on the April 8, 2019 car bombing, officials familiar with the matter said.
President Donald Trump has denied that he was ever briefed on an intelligent report on the bounty operation seeking to push the US out of Afghanistan, even though officials have refuted him and said he was told about it.
The father of Cpl. Robert A Hendriks, 25, (left and right) who was killed by a car bomb in April 2019 while serving in Afghanistan, is speaking out and blaming Trump for failing to protect troops
Hendriks’ family is speaking out amid reports that the April 8, 2019 car bombing is being investigation to see if it’s linked to intelligence claims that Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan
‘If it does come out as true, obviously the heartache would be terrible.’
Hendriks, who says he isn’t a political person, supported having troops in Afghanistan and was proud of his son’s uniform.
‘Thank God these warriors were there. I really do believe if they were not there, the enemy would be here. I know my son supported it,’ Hendriks said.
Felicia Arculeo, the mother of a Marine killed last year in Afghanistan wants to see an investigation into reports her son may have been killed by Taliban fighters paid for by Russia
‘You would think they would have had the best intelligence and the best backing over there,’ he said in a telephone interview from his home in Glen Cove, New York.
‘If I find out this information was given to this administration or a previous administration, because let’s face it, who knows how long this could have gone on, the little faith I have in government would go down the drain,’ he said.
‘Who knows the truth anymore?’ he added.
For Hendriks, a retired New York City police detective, it’s more than a political debate – it’s a matter of understanding his son’s death.
‘I can talk to 1,000 people a day and they have no idea what it is like to lay down at night and to lose a son like they do,’ he said.
Hendriks said his ex-wife Felicia Arculeo, the mother of Cpl. Hendriks, is ‘living a nightmare’.
Speaking on CNBC on Monday she said ‘the parties who are responsible should be held accountable, if that’s even possible.’
Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, (left) and Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, (right) were also killed in the bomb attack in April 2019
Cpl. Robert Hendriks is pictured hugging his mother Felicia Arculeo
For Cpl. Hendriks, it was his first deployment to Afghanistan, where he was serving with his brother Joseph Hendriks. His brother escorted his body back to the US.
The three men were killed just days before they were scheduled to return home from Afghanistan.
In Trump’s time in office he’s pushed to reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan. He’s also worked to patch up relations between the US and Russia.
But Trump’s work in office has only led to fury among some veteran communities.
‘Regardless of whether or not these reports are corroborated, the loss of any American service member is tragic,’ Nate Anderson, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America said to the Times.
‘The larger issue here is keeping our troops deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to fight wars that no longer serve our national interest,’ he added.
This week VoteVets created a social media video slamming Trump on the Russia bounty operation, which has already been watched over three million times on Twitter.
President Donald Trump has denied that he was ever briefed on an intelligent report on the bounty operation seeking to push the US out of Afghanistan, even though officials have refuted him and said he was told about it
President Donald Trump has denied that he was made aware of an intelligence report that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany abandoned attempts to discredit an intelligence report that Russians were offering bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan on Tuesday
Even though Trump claims he was never briefed on the Russian plot – former National Security Officer John Bolton told colleagues he briefed the president back in March.
Two officials told the New York Times on Monday that the matter appeared on the president’s daily brief agenda. One said it was included sometime in February, another cited a more specific date as February 27.
On Tuesday White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany abandoned attempts to discredit that Russian bounty report and instead blasted media for its reporting.
‘The front page of the New York Times is not the venue for discussing classified information,’ she announced when she came to the podium.
‘As a result of this New York Times report, who’s going to want to crop cooperate with the United States intelligence community? Who’s going to want to be a source or an asset, if they know that their identity could be disclosed? Which allies will want to share information with us, if they know that some rogue intelligence officer can go splash that information on the front page of a major U.S. newspaper?’ she argued.
‘The President was never briefed on this, this intelligence still has not been verified, and there is no consensus among the intelligence community,’ McEnany argued repeatedly on Monday.
Her defense of the president and offensive strategy came as Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive 2020 nominee, criticized the president for not knowing about the intelligence report and not taking stronger action upon learning about it.
U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020
Army Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany from small-arms fire wounds he received in Badghis province in northwest Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2019
Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua ‘Zach’ Beale, 32, was killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province, Jan. 22
Army Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colo., died after being wounded during combat in northern Kunduz province, March 22
Army Sgt. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, died of wounds sustained in combat operations in northern Kunduz province, March 22
Marine Sgt. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, was one of three Marines killed by a car bomb outside Bagram Airfield, April 8
Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pa., died in a car bomb explosion outside Bagram Airfield, April 8
Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, was killed by a car bomb outside Bagram Airfield, April 8
Army Spc. Miguel L. Holmes, 22, died in eastern Nangarhar province from wounds sustained in a noncombat incident, May 6
Army Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, was killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province, June 25
Army Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, was killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province, June 25
Army Sgt. 1st Class Elliott J. Robbins, 31, a Green Beret medical sergeant from Utah, died from noncombat injuries in southern Helmand province, June 30
Army Sgt. Maj. James ‘Ryan’ Sartor, 40, died from injuries sustained by enemy fire in northern Faryab province, July 13
Army Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, died after being shot by an Afghan soldier at a military camp in southern Uruzgan province in a ‘green on blue’, July 29
Army Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, died after an Afghan solider opened fire at a base in southern Uruzgan province in a ‘green on blue’, July 29
Army Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, was one of two Green Berets killed in northern Faryab province by small-arms fire, Aug. 21
Army Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, Calif., was killed during a raid alongside Afghan special forces in southern Faryab province, Aug. 21
Army Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Ard, 31, died of wounds received in combat in southern Zabul province, Aug. 29
Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, died in a suicide blast in Kabul, Sept. 5
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, was killed by small-arms fire in central Wardak province, Sept. 16
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr., 25, was killed in a helicopter crash in the eastern Logar province, Nov. 20
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, was killed in a helicopter crash, while providing security to ground troops in eastern Logar province, Nov. 20
Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble, 33, was killed in a roadside bombing in northern Kunduz province, Dec. 23
Army Staff Sergeant Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, died in an IED attack in Kandahar, Jan 1. 2020
Army Private 1st Class Miguel Villalon, 21, die in an IED attack in Kandahar, Jan. 1
Air Force Lt. Colonel Paul Voss, 46, died in an aircraft crash in the Ghazni province, Jan 27
Air Force Captain Ryan Haneuf, 30, died in an aircraft crash in the Ghazni province, Jan 27
Army Sergeant 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, died in a small arms fire ‘green on blue’ attack in Nangarhar when an Afghan dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire, Feb. 8
Army Sergeant 1st Class Antonio Rey, Rodriguez, 28, died in a small arms fire ‘green on blue’ attack in Nangarhar when an Afghan dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire, Feb. 8
Army Specialist Branden Tyrne Kimball, 21, died in Parwan in a non-combat related incident at Bagram Air Force Base that is being investigated, Feb. 12
Army 1st Lt. Trevarius Ravon Bowman, 25, , died in Parwan a non-combat related incident at Bagram Air Force Base that is being investigated, May 19
Source: Stars and Stripes, icasualities.org, Military Times, AP