What is Abbey Gate? Heckler thrown out of State of the Union for screaming about deadly attack

A heckler was removed from President Joe Biden’s State of the Union on Thursday night as he repeatedly shouted “remember Abbey Gate” in the middle of the address.

The president was over an hour into his high-stakes speech – where he had railed at his unnamed predecessor Donald Trump and vowed to restore reproductive rights – when the man began screaming from the gallery.

“Remember Abbey Gate! US Marines!” the protester shouted.

He was seen being escorted out of the House by Capitol police and being placed in handcuffs.

The man was later identified as Gold Star parent Steven Nikoui, whose son US Marine Kareem Nikoui was one of the 13 US troops killed in the Kabul airport bombing in August 2021 as the US withdrew troops from Afghanistan.

House Speaker Mike Johnson had invited other Gold Star parents Alicia Lopez and Darin Hoover – who also lost their children in the terrorist attack – as his guests to the president’s speech.

A protester shouts at President Joe Biden as he delivers his third State of the Union address (via REUTERS)
A protester shouts at President Joe Biden as he delivers his third State of the Union address (via REUTERS)

“President Biden’s hasty, unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan was a failure for America and its allies. It led to the tragic deaths of brave American servicemembers, including Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover and Cpl. Hunter Lopez,” Mr Johnson said in a statement to ABC News before the speech.

Mr Hoover and Ms Lopez released a joint statement prior to attending where they called for “transparency“ and “justice” from the Biden administration.

“Taylor and Hunter are great men, dedicated Marines and incredible sons who made our families proud every day. They paid the ultimate sacrifice along with the 11 others killed and 45 wounded for our great country, but more than two years since their death, the President has left us without answers,” they said.

A protester is escorted out by security (AP)
A protester is escorted out by security (AP)

“As parents, we deserve transparency and we demand justice. We’re grateful to be joining Speaker Johnson at the State of the Union to commemorate our sons and demand accountability from this Administration,” they added.

Abbey Gate was the scene of a horrific terrorist attack outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport back in August 2021, during the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In the attack, 13 American service members – 11 Marines, a Soldier, and a Sailor – were killed. Around 170 Afghan civilians were also killed.

The 26 August 2021 suicide bombing terrorist attack came days into the US’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

It marked the deadliest day for American troops in Afghanistan in around a decade.

Since then, families of some the 13 service members killed have demanded answers from the Biden administration while Republicans have launched investigations into the withdrawal.