In November 2016, an Afghan civilian employee on Bagram Airfield strapped on a suicide vest and made his way toward about 200 personnel gathering for a Veterans Day fun run.
Now, one of the soldiers injured in the attack is suing Fluor Corporation, the contractor who hired Ahmad Nayeb to work in Bagram’s non-tactical vehicle yard, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in a South Carolina federal court.
An Army investigation released in late 2017 found that Fluor knew Nayeb had been affiliated with the Taliban in the past, and did not supervise his activities on the base or take action against his substandard job performance.
The attack killed three soldiers and two Fluor employees, in addition to injuring 17 ― including Spc. Winston Hencely, now 22, the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Hencely thought it was odd when he saw Nayed heading toward the 5k gathering point, and when the insurgent ignored the soldier’s questions, Hencely grabbed him by the shoulder.
He could feel the vest under Nayeb’s clothing, the filing says. Then the bomb went off.
“The projectiles that penetrated Hencely’s brain and chest were the property of Fluor — pieces of nuts and bolts the bomber obtained from Fluor despite the fact his job did not require he have access to such materials,” according to a Wednesday release from his attorneys at Butler, Wooten and Peak in Georgia.
The lawsuit claims Fluor violated its contract with the Defense Department ― which, the filing alleges, makes it responsible for actions of all of its employees ― through loose security procedures, allowing Nayeb access to the tools and materials he used to make the bomb while on the clock.
In addition, the filing alleges, Nayeb was supposed to be on a shuttle off the base by 4:45 that morning, and Fluor knew that he was still there.
“We are aware of the complaint filed by Army Specialist Winston Hencely,” Brett Turner, a Fluor spokesman, told Army Times in a statement Monday. “Because of pending litigation, however, we will not be able to provide any additional information at this time.”
Hencely’s injuries have rendered him permanently disabled, the lawsuit alleges, with numbness and only partial use of the left side of his body, as well as a traumatic brain injury.
“The Army’s Investigation Report is a scathing indictment of Fluor,” co-counsel Andrew Bowen said in the release. “Fluor failed to follow the terms of its contract to supervise its employees at Bagram Air Field and put our service men and women at risk. This incident is the direct consequence of that.”
The Taliban took credit for the attack, boasting online that it took four months to plan.
The lawsuit asks for at least $75,000 in damages, in addition to punitive damages, as well as a trial by jury. Because Hencely seeks compensatory damages for pain and suffering, medical care and lost wages and income, plus punitive damages, an award could total in the millions of dollars.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT