WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-21) today released the following statement regarding the arrest of Steve Nikoui, Rep. Mast’s guest to the State of the Union.

“Mr. Nikoui lost his son due to Joe Biden’s incompetence, and lost another son to grief over his brother being killed,” said Rep. Mast.  “This man and his family have given America more than I could personally bear and to attack him with a BS charge of ‘demonstrating’ is a disgrace.”

Nikoui is the father of Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, who was one of the 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in the terrorist attack at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport during President Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.

During the State of the Union address, Nikoui stood up and yelled out, “Abbey Gate,” as well as the name of his son.  Shortly after, he was escorted out of the House gallery and detained.  Rep. Mast joined Mr. Nikoui during the interrogation at the United States Capitol Police headquarters past midnight.


After his graduation from high school in 2019, LCpl. Nikoui joined the Marine Corps, where he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines unit stationed at Camp Pendleton.  As a member of that unit, LCpl. Nikoui was deployed to Afghanistan where he participated in Operation Allies Refuge to evacuate U.S. citizens, American allies and others at risk.  Lance Cpl. Nikoui was killed in action–along with 10 other Marines, one Army soldier and one Navy corpsman–on August 26, 2021, during the chaotic withdrawal.

On August 9, 2022, just a few weeks before the first anniversary of LCpl. Kareem Nikoui’s death, his brother took his own life near the park where he played with the fallen Marine as a child and across the street from the permanent veteran’s memorial.

Steve Nikoui and his wife, Shana Chappell, have been vocal critics of President Biden’s decisions leading up to the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan.