It's hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort. We're operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS attack. — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
It's hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort. We're operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS attack. — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Terror threats hamper Afghanistan evacuation as Biden's deadline looms
President Joe Biden is so far sticking to his Tuesday deadline for the final exit from a 20-year war in Afghanistan, after an initially chaotic drawdown that has since evolved into a mammoth and daring airlift of more than 82,000 people out of Kabul.

But in an alarming sign of the deteriorating security environment, US diplomats in Kabul early Thursday local time suddenly warned American citizens to "immediately" leave several gates into the airport, citing security threats.

The warning came hours after a US defense official had told CNN that officials were alarmed by a "very specific threat stream" about the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, which planned to attack crowds outside the airfield.

Inside, thousands of troops are braving testing conditions and intense heat to fill cargo aircraft with US citizens and Afghans who helped American troops and officials and fear gruesome punishment by the Taliban.

The question now is how long the Pentagon will give the evacuation operation before it transitions to a mission to extract thousands of troops and materiel, which could take several days and curtail the departures of noncombatants.

... The operation has so far not cost a single American life. Biden told Americans this week that he would send no more of their sons and daughters to die in Afghanistan. And the fact that US troops are not actively seeking to round up American citizens far from the airport in Taliban territory -- apart from a few publicly known examples -- suggests the White House is keeping the risks of the operation as low as possible. But Washington is on edge, hostage to developments halfway across the globe. Any US fatalities, terror attacks or exchanges of fire with the Taliban could turn a crisis that is poised on a knife edge for the President into a full-blown political disaster, in addition to the human pain and loss they would cause.

... US troops were already in a deeply vulnerable position on the airport, the last piece of Afghanistan they now control, after the enemy they spent two decades fighting, the Taliban, swept across the country in a lightning advance.

But the added threat from ISIS-K makes the situation even worse. The group is a sworn enemy of the Taliban and the US, so it has every reason to cause mayhem. It showed its awful potency in Kabul earlier this year in an attack on a school for girls that killed dozens of people, mostly children. Thousands of Afghans have been crushing against Taliban checkpoints in recent days, seeking access to gates controlled by US and allied soldiers. Any attack would have the potential to cause terrible casualties. ISIS-K's ranks are believed to have been swelled by escapees from Afghan prisons and potentially a number of hardened fighters from Syria.

"It's hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. "We're operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS attack."

Blinken gave the most detailed breakdown yet of the number of Americans who may be in Afghanistan. He said US forces had so far pulled out at least 4,500 US citizens. He said the US had provided another 500 Americans with instructions on how to reach the airport safely. He said officials were inundating the remaining possible 1,000 citizens with emails, texts and calls. But he cautioned that some may have left of their own accord or may not in fact be Americans at all.

... While still president, Trump made a deal with the Taliban to leave -- behind the Afghan government's back -- which experts say contributed to the swift collapse of the state. And he made little accommodation for the tens of thousands of Afghans who risked their lives to help US forces and officials over 20 years and are owed sanctuary in return.


Now Trump is slandering many of those same Afghans, claiming -- as he did with Mexico at the start of his 2016 campaign -- that the Taliban are not sending the country's "best" people to the United States.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/26/politics/president-joe-biden-afghan-refugees-donald-trump-immigration/index.html