Charges Dropped Against SOTU Heckler

Steve Nikoui, father of Marine killed in Afghanistan, reportedly 'thrilled and humbled'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2024 1:00 AM CST
Updated Mar 20, 2024 8:49 AM CDT
Father of Marine Killed in Afghanistan Arrested at SOTU
Steve Nikoui, father of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, an Abbey Gate Gold Star family member, speaks at a House Foreign Affairs Committee roundtable, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
UPDATE Mar 20, 2024 8:49 AM CDT

The father of a US service member killed in the 2021 bombing at Kabul's airport is no longer facing charges for heckling President Biden during the State of the Union address, per Fox News. As with other protesters, DC attorney general Brian Schwalb, a Democrat, declined to prosecute Steve Nikoui on a misdemeanor charge, the Speaker's Office confirmed Tuesday. Fox describes Nikoui, who had to be removed from the gallery, as "thrilled and humbled" at the news. Several Republican lawmakers had called for the charges to be dropped. "He did nothing wrong. And this is the right decision," Rep. Darrell Issa wrote Tuesday on X, per the Daily Beast.

Mar 8, 2024 1:00 AM CST

Steve Nikoui, father of one of the 13 American service members killed in a suicide bomb attack on the Kabul airport amid the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, was arrested Thursday night after heckling President Biden during his State of the Union address. Nikoui's son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, was killed when an ISIS-K terrorist detonated an explosive device at Abbey Gate, the entrance to the airport. At least 170 Afghan civilians also died in the attack. As Biden spoke, Nikoui could be heard shouting, "Abbey Gate! Abbey Gate!" ABC News reports. Nikoui, a guest of Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, was escorted out of the speech, NBC News reports. US Capitol Police later confirmed he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

"Our officers warned him to stop and when he did not, the man was removed from the House Galleries and was arrested," the force said in a statement. "Disrupting the Congress and demonstrating in the Congressional Buildings is illegal." Axios notes Biden was also heckled by Republican lawmakers during the speech, despite House Speaker Mike Johnson having asked them not to. The site says it's "extremely rare" for anyone to be removed from the gallery above the chamber during the speech. Mast, who served in Afghanistan as well, posted on X that Biden has refused to say the names of the 13 service members who were killed in any of this State of the Union addresses. "I couldn't support this effort more," he wrote of Nikoui's actions. "Say their names!" (More State of the Union stories.)

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