Dad of Marine Killed in Afghanistan Charged After Heckling Biden During SOTU

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The father of a U.S. Marine killed during the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in 2021 was charged with a misdemeanor after he disrupted President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday.

Steve Nikoui, 51, attended the speech as the guest of Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). He was removed from the chamber and arrested by Capitol Police after he interrupted Biden with shouts of “Abbey Gate”—the entrance at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where a suicide bomber killed 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members, including Nikoui’s son, Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui.

Capitol Police told Axios that officers told Nikoui to stop but he persisted, at which point he was taken out of the gallery and arrested. A spokesperson for the agency said he was charged with a local misdemeanor charge of “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.”

Capitol Police separately told The New York Times that the charge is “routine” on Capitol Hill and that people who “who illegally demonstrate/disrupt Congress typically are released after they pay a $50 fine, so the misdemeanor charge is resolved without going to court.”

Nikoui told The Daily Beast at the time of his son’s death that he considered Biden to be responsible. “They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” Nikoui said at the time. “I blame my own military leaders… Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”

He added that he was happy his son joined the Marines when Donald Trump was president. “I really believed this guy didn’t want to send people into harm’s way,” he said.

In a blog post, Mast said he was “honored” to have Nikoui joining him for Biden’s address and said his presence would serve as a reminder to the president of “the damage he has done to national security and American families.”

“Lance Cpl. Nikoui was killed in action as a result of President Biden’s disastrous decision making,” Mast wrote. “Since then, Joe Biden has been trying to turn the page on Afghanistan without accountability after his incompetence cost American lives.”

The Republican lawmaker later expressed outrage at Nikoui’s treatment after his disruption of the speech. “The Sergeant at Arms is holding my State of the Union guest for yelling at@POTUS in protest because his son was killed in action at the Abbey Gate due to Biden’s incompetence,” Mast posted on X. “So much for the right to petition our government for the redress of grievances.”

He also later claimed that Biden “has never honored those killed at the Abby Gate [sic] and still hails the catastrophic withdrawal as a success!” Biden released a statement expressing “gratitude for the sacrifice” of the 13 troops killed in the attack days after it took place. He released another statement on the first anniversary of the bombing saying the U.S. “will forever mourn their sacrifice and honor the memory of those 13 precious souls,” and a third expressing similar sentiments on the second anniversary in August.