- Background In February 2020, the Trump administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban. The accord, which excluded the Afghan government, called for the U.S. to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 by July 2020, followed eventually by a full U.S. withdrawal by May 1, 2021. That withdrawal, however, was contingent upon […]
In February 2020, the Trump administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban. The accord, which excluded the Afghan government, called for the U.S. to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 by July 2020, followed eventually by a full U.S. withdrawal by May 1, 2021. That withdrawal, however, was contingent upon the Taliban meeting a series of clearly articulated non-aggression requirements — most notably, that it would not permit Afghanistan to again become a safe haven for jihadist terrorists, as it had been during the 1996-2001 period which led up to 9/11. Specifically, Taliban leaders agreed to “not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
But Chris Miller, the Trump administration’s final secretary of defense, said in August 2021 that Trump’s deal with the Taliban was in fact nothing more than a “play” intended to pressure Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to either resign or agree to a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban that would allow the U.S. to keep approximately 800 to 850 troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism purposes. Said Miller: “The whole policy strategy going forward was ‘Ghani is going to have to deal with the Taliban.’ And it wasn’t going to be a 50-50 split between the Afghan government and Taliban. We knew that. It was going to be 75-25, and then you flip this thing into an interim government. It wasn’t an unconditional surrender: ‘We’re leaving, heading for the door.’ We weren’t just going to head for the door. We were going to jam Ghani hard and make him cut a deal with the Taliban. It would have been ugly. It wouldn’t have been great. But there was no plan to just leave.”
By the end of the Trump administration, the U.S. still had some 2,500 non-combat troops as well as 18,000 contractors in Afghanistan.
In the spring and summer of 2021, the Biden administration withdrew the U.S. entirely from Afghanistan, but it did so in a manner that was catastrophic for America, its NATO allies, and the world at large.
Biden Promises That America’s Withdrawal from Afghanistan Will Be “Safe and Orderly”
During a March 25, 2021 press conference, President Biden vowed that America’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan would be done “a safe and orderly way.”
Biden Announces That All U.S. Troops Will Be Withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021
On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that the US would not begin withdrawing its 2500 troops until May 1, and that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11. “After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the vice president, as well as with [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani] and many others around the world, I concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home,” said Biden. Added the president: “With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country and across the billions [of dollars spent] each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders. We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan — hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result.”
Biden also said: “We’ll not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners…. And the Taliban should know, if they should attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves with all the tools at our disposal.”
U.S. Withdrawal Begins
On April 30, 2021, CNN reported: “The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan is now formally underway, according to the White House and several US defense officials. ‘A drawdown is underway,’ White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One [on April 29]. ‘While these actions will initially result in increased forces levels, we remain committed to having all of US military personnel out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2020.’ Fewer than 100 troops, along with military equipment, have been moved largely by aircraft to execute President Joe Biden’s order to begin the withdrawal process no later than May 1, according to several US defense officials.”
U.S. Withdraws from Airbase in Kandahar
In mid-May 2021, U.S. forces withdrew from one of Afghanistan’s largest airbases in Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city. The Taliban then took control of districts in Wardak province near Kabul, and in the key province of Ghazni.
Russia & China Object to Biden’s Wish for U.S. Staging Rights in Central Asia
In a June 16, 2021 summit meeting, Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. would like to have access to Russian military bases in Central Asia. Such rights would enable America, after its imminent military withdrawal from Afghanistan, to more closely check new terrorist dangers in that country. Putin objected to Biden’s request. As The Wall Street Journal explained:
“Without access to Central Asian nations, such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, the U.S. would need to rely on bases in Qatar, other Arab Gulf states and U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean to fly aircraft to Afghanistan. Flight times from the Gulf states are so long that a U.S. drone might spend more than 60% of its mission flying to and from Afghanistan from the U.S. base at Al Udeid, Qatar, a former senior U.S. military official said. This would limit the time for conducting reconnaissance or carrying out strikes over the country.
“Mr. Putin told Mr. Biden at their Geneva meeting, however, that Moscow was opposed to any U.S. military role in the Central Asian region and that China would reject it as well—a position a senior Russian official reiterated this week. A senior U.S. official said the Russian president emphasized the point even though Mr. Biden didn’t seek Mr. Putin’s support for positioning U.S. military or intelligence assets in the area. ‘We do not see how any form of U.S. military presence in Central Asia might enhance the security of the countries involved and/or of their neighbors. It would definitely NOT be in the interests of Russia,’ Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov wrote … in a statement emailed to The Wall Street Journal. ‘This position has not changed against the backdrop of what is transpiring in Afghanistan these days.’”
Biden Administration Terminates Trump-Era Program Designed to Protect Citizens Trapped Overseas
According to an internal State Department memo, in June 2021 the Biden State Department approved the “discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of,” the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR), a Trump-era program which was designed to serve as a clearinghouse to coordinate State Department responses to emergency situations abroad. Such responses, explained the Trump Administration, would provide “aviation, logistics, and medical support capabilities for the Department’s operational bureaus, thereby enhancing the secretary’s ability to protect American citizens overseas in connection with overseas evacuations in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster.”
By mid-June 2021, the Taliban had captured several districts in Afghanistan’s northern provinces.
On June 22, the Taliban took control of the main Shir Khan Bandar border crossing with Tajikistan.
On June 24, the Taliban seized the key district of Panjwai in Kandahar.
Taliban Makes Enormous Strides in Retaking Control of Afghanistan
On June 23, 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported:
“The U.S. intelligence community concluded last week that the government of Afghanistan could collapse as soon as six months after the American military withdrawal from the country is completed, according to officials with knowledge of the new assessment. American intelligence agencies revised their previously more optimistic estimates as the Taliban swept through northern Afghanistan last week, seizing dozens of districts and surrounding major cities. Afghan security forces frequently surrendered without a fight, leaving their Humvees and other American-supplied equipment to the insurgents.
“The new assessment of the overall U.S. intelligence community, which hasn’t been previously reported, has now aligned more closely with the analysis that had been generated by the U.S. military. The military has already withdrawn more than half of its 3,500 troops and its equipment, with the rest due to be out by Sept. 11.
“On [June 23], Taliban fighters were battling government troops inside the northern city of Kunduz after occupying the main border crossing with Tajikistan the previous day and reaching the outskirts of northern Afghanistan’s main hub, Mazar-e-Sharif. Tajikistan’s border service said 134 Afghan troops at the crossing were granted refuge while some 100 others were killed or captured by the Taliban.
“Overall, the Taliban’s lightning offensive in northern Afghanistan resulted in the fall of dozens of districts over the past week, putting much of the countryside under insurgent control. Local politicians and tribal elders negotiated a series of surrender agreements with government forces. Often unpaid for months, these troops left convoys of armored vehicles and stockpiles of weaponry, including artillery pieces, mortars and heavy machine guns, in exchange for Taliban guarantees of safe passage.
“U.S. intelligence experts had believed the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who is slated to meet President Biden in Washington on Friday to discuss continued American support for Afghanistan, could survive as long as two years once the U.S. withdrawal is completed. That is roughly the same interval that elapsed between the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
“The latest view of intelligence analysts and senior U.S. military officials, however, is that the government of Afghanistan and its capital, Kabul, could fall between six and 12 months after American forces depart, according to officials. Some other Western officials believe that the government’s collapse could come as soon as three months from the completion of the U.S. withdrawal.”
Last U.S. Troops Leave Bagram Air Force Base, Biden Moves Up the Projected Date of Full Withdrawal & Leaves Behind 650 Troops to Assist U.S. Diplomats
As of June 28, 2021, the U.S. Defense Department had flown 896 C-17 loads of equipment out of Afghanistan, mostly from Bagram Air Force Base.
Biden left behind 650 U.S. troops to provide security for American diplomats in Kabul.
U.S. Quietly Leaves Bagram Airfield in Middle of the Night
In the overnight hours of July 2, 2021, the U.S. left Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan’s largest and most heavily fortified airbase, after nearly 20 years by quietly shutting off the electricity and failing to notify the base’s new Afghan commander, Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, who did not learn of the Americans’ departure until more than two hours after they had left. “We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” said Kohistani.
Because the Air Force did not coordinate its withdrawal activities with local Afghan officials, the base was looted early on July 2.
U.S. Withdrawal Deadline Is Changed to August 31
Also on July 2, the Pentagon, in the aftermath of widespread criticism vis-a-vis the selection of September 11 as the withdrawal deadline, announced that America’s full withdrawal from Afghanistan would be complete by the end of August, rather than by September 11 as originally projected. Thus, the U.S. would have 11 fewer days in which to complete the evacuation.
Taliban Atrocities Against Afghani Citizens
Amnesty International reports the following about Taliban atrocities targeting nine ethnic Hazara men that occurred between July 4-6, 2021, in the Afghan village of Mundarakht:
“Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off.
“The brutal killings likely represent a tiny fraction of the total death toll inflicted by the Taliban to date, as the group have cut mobile phone service in many of the areas they have recently captured, controlling which photographs and videos are then shared from these regions. […]
“On 3 July 2021, fighting intensified in Ghazni province between Afghan government forces and the Taliban. Villagers told Amnesty International that they fled into the mountains to traditional iloks, their summer grazing land, where they have basic shelters. There was little food for the 30 families that fled. The next morning, 4 July, five men and four women returned to the village to gather supplies. On their return, they found that their homes had been looted, and that Taliban fighters were lying in wait for them.
“One man, 45-year-old Wahed Qaraman, was taken from his home by Taliban fighters who broke his legs and arms, shot him in the right leg, pulled his hair out, and beat his face with a blunt object.
“Another man, 63-year-old Jaffar Rahimi, was severely beaten and accused of working for the Afghan government, after cash was found in his pocket. The Taliban strangled him to death with his own scarf. Three people involved in the burial of Rahimi said that his body was covered in bruises, and that the muscles of his arms had been carved off.
“Sayed Abdul Hakim, 40, was taken from his home, beaten with sticks and rifle butts, had his arms bound, and was shot twice in the leg and twice in the chest. His body was then dumped next to a nearby creek.
“One eyewitness, who assisted with the burials, told Amnesty International: ‘We asked the Taliban why they did this, and they told us, ‘When it is the time of conflict, everyone dies, it doesn’t matter if you have guns or not. It is the time of war.’
“During the two-day killing spree, three other men – Ali Jan Tata (65), Zia Faqeer Shah (23), and Ghulam Rasool Reza (53) – were ambushed and executed as they left the iloks, and attempted to pass through Mundarakht to reach their homes in the nearby hamlet of Wuli. In Mundarakht, they were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint, where they were executed. Ali Jan Tata was shot in the chest, and Rasool was shot in the neck. According to witnesses, Zia Faqeer Shah’s chest was so riddled with bullets that he was buried in pieces. The men’s bodies were thrown into the creek alongside Sayed Abdul Hakim.
“Three more men were also callously killed in their home village. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that Sayeed Ahmad, 75, insisted the Taliban would not harm him as he was an elderly man, and that he intended to return to feed his cattle. He was executed with two bullets to the chest and another in his side.
“Zia Marefat, 28, suffered from depression and rarely left his home in Mundarakht. He refused to leave after the Taliban took control of the village on 3 July, but eventually did so after being urged by his mother and others to flee for his own safety. However, as he walked alone to the ilok, he was captured by the Taliban, who killed him with a shot to the temple.
“Karim Bakhsh Karimi, 45, who had an undiagnosed mental health condition which caused him to act erratically, did not flee with the rest of the villagers. He was also shot, execution-style, in the head.”
Biden Changes Deadline for U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan to August 31
On July 8, 2021, President Biden reiterated that the deadline for America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan had been moved up by 11 days, from September 11 to August 31. In a speech from the White House’s East Room, he said: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build. Afghan leaders have to come together and drive toward a future.” Addressing those who advocated extending the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Biden said: “How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.”
Biden Denies Notion That Afghanistan Will Fall Soon to Taliban or Descend into Chaos
In July 2021, President Biden denied an intelligence assessment that the Afghan government would fall within six months. And on July 8, 2021, he had the following exchange with reporters:
Q: Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
BIDEN: No, it is not.
BIDEN: Because you — the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.
Q: Do you trust the Taliban, Mr. President? Do you trust the Taliban, sir? […]
BIDEN: It’s a — it’s a silly question. Do I trust the Taliban? No. But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more re- — more competent in terms of conducting war. […] But the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.
More Taliban Gains
On July 9, 2021, the Taliban announced that they had captured Islam Qala, Afghanistan’s largest border crossing with Iran.
On July 14, the Taliban take control of the Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan, a major trade route between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Taliban offensive then escalated dramatically, with a focus on cities like Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, and Herat.
Taliban Execute 22 Afghan Commandos As They Try to Surrender
On July 13, 2021, Taliban fighters shot and killed 22 Afghan commandos as they tried to surrender in the northern province of Faryab, “The Taliban told them to take off their bulletproof vests amid the surrender and then shot the 22 troops,” reported Fox News, “including the son of a top Afghan general. […] The violence comes just days after Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on June 9 described the Taliban’s ‘concerning’ advancement in Afghanistan as the U.S. military pulled troops out of the country after 20 years. Government officials dismissed the Taliban’s claim that it had taken control of 85% of territory in Afghanistan at the time, saying it was part of a propaganda campaign, according to Reuters.”
Added Fox News: “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Long War Journal described the security situation in Afghanistan as ‘rapidly’ deteriorating, noting that in the six days ending July 5, the Taliban had taken control of nearly 10% of the entire country. In total, the Taliban controls 195 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts and contests another 129 as of July 5 compared to its control of just 73 and contest of 210 on May 1, according to the FDD’s real-time assessments.”
Afghan President Ghani Warned of Taliban “Invasion,” but Biden, Concerned with “Perception,” Issued a Quid-Pro-Quo Demand That Made U.S. Air Support Contingent upon Ghani Publicly Lying About the Situation in Afghanistan
A leaked transcript and audio recording of a July 23, 2021 phone call between President Biden and then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was made public on August 31. In that call, Ghani, emphasizing the need for continued U.S. air support, told Biden, “We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists.” But Biden, knowing that he had leverage over Ghani, pressured the Afghan president to publicly claim that there was no crisis, and that he had a plan to control the situation in Afghanistan. “I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden told Ghani. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture. That will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think.”
Moreover, Biden made it clear to Ghani that the provision of additional U.S. air support for the Afghan army was contingent upon Ghani lying, as Biden was demanding. “You clearly have the best military,” Biden told Ghani. “You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well, we will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is and what we are doing.”
Writing in The Federalist, John Lucas noted that Biden’s quid-pro-quo arrangement with Ghani was precisely the type of arrangement that Democrats, in their 2020 impeachment hearings against President Trump, had (falsely) accused Trump of pursuing with the president of Ukraine. Wrote Lucas: ”
“This shows that in the words of the 2019 Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, President Biden ‘sought to pressure the Government of [Afghanistan] to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to [Afghanistan] on its public announcement of the [plan]. President [Biden] engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President [Biden] used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.’”
Nor was Biden the only U.S. official to demand that Ghani lie about the disaster that was befalling Afghanistan. According to Breitbart.com:
“Later that day in another call also leaked to Reuters, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, and U.S. Central Command commander Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie [also] pressed Ghani to change the ‘perception’ of the war. Milley told Ghani ‘the perception in the United States, in Europe and the media sort of thing is a narrative of Taliban momentum, and a narrative of Taliban victory. And we need to collectively demonstrate and try to turn that perception, that narrative around.’ McKenzie added: ‘I do not believe time is our friend here. We need to move quickly.'”
Taliban Overruns More Cities in Afghanistan
On August 11, 2021, it was reported that the Talban was continuing to make unprecedented power gains in Afghanistan. Said CNN.com:
“CNN saw a graphic example of how low morale is among some army units on a visit to the city of Ghazni, three hours from Kabul. A group of soldiers who had been under fire from Taliban snipers simply ran from their base, flagged down a passing car and left. When CNN returned to the same base the following day, some soldiers had changed into civilian clothes — a clear sign of their fear of the Taliban, of a desire to melt away should the rebels get any closer. On Wednesday, video from the airbase in Kunduz, in the north, showed many surrendering soldiers not wearing uniforms.
“Security forces in many parts of the country seem overwhelmed — fearful of assassination or car bombs, and of the relentless Taliban offensive that is forcing the government to choose what it will defend and what it will surrender. Afghanistan’s best troops, the U.S.-trained commandos, are overstretched.
“Besides the provincial capitals that have already fallen, another dozen or so are under imminent threat, surrounded and connected to Kabul only by air.
“The Taliban said Wednesday that they had taken control of the main prison in Kandahar city and released around 1,000 inmates. They have done the same elsewhere, often replenishing their ranks in the process. A government spokesman acknowledged the prison had fallen, and said most of the inmates were criminals. […]
“In capturing police and military bases, the Taliban have acquired armored vehicles, Humvees and heavy weapons as well as dozens of the ubiquitous pick-up trucks. A steady stream of captured vehicles, many of them provided by the U.S., left the Kunduz base Wednesday. One of the rebels could be heard saying that the weapons they’d seized were enough for all the mujahideen in Afghanistan. […] The overwhelming feeling of people who are in areas still controlled by the government is fear. Kabul may feel secure at the moment, but that may not last for long. The latest U.S. intelligence assessment is that the Taliban could roll over government forces within a very few months.”
Biden Sends 3,000 Troops Back to Afghanistan to Evacuate U.S. Civilians Amid Chaos
In early August 2021, President Biden — after having evacuated nearly 1,900 troops from Afghanistan — sent 3,000 soldiers back to Afghanistan to help evacuate the American civilians who were still there. As writer Daniel Greenfield noted in FrontPage Magazine:
“Civilians should have been evacuated first followed by the military. Instead, Biden evacuated the military first as a photo-op, and now has to send them back in to evacuate the civilians. The Biden administration tried to lead with diplomacy and then had to pivot back to the military at the last minute anyway. What could have been a departure conducted with a show of strength has become another humiliating disaster in the legacy of appeasement disasters from Carter to Clinton to Obama and to Biden. The only question is how much worse it’s going to get. Despite Biden’s denials, the Taliban are on track to take Afghanistan.”
Biden Administration Says the Afghan Government Has All the Forces It Needs to Defeat the Taliban
By August 11, 2021, hundreds of Afghan forces had surrendered to the Taliban in Kunduz. President Biden exhorted Afghan leaders to “fight for their nation,” while White House press secretary Jan Psaki said: “[The Afghan National Security Defense Forces] have what they need. What they need to determine is whether they have the political will to fight back, and if they have the ability to unite as leaders to fight back.”
The Collapse of Afghanistan Continues at Breakneck Speed
On Friday, August 13, 2021, Fox News reported:
“Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan on Friday seized Kandahar and Herat—the country’s second and third largest cities, hours after Fox News confirmed that the U.S. military will help evacuate Americans from the embassy in Kabul. The insurgents have taken more than a dozen provincial capitals in recent days and now control more than two-thirds of the country just weeks before the U.S. plans to withdraw its last troops. The New York Times reported that just three major cities in the country are still under the government’s control and Taliban fighters are ‘well-positioned to attack Kabul.’ The paper also pointed out that the capture of Kandahar is a symbolic victory for the Taliban because it is where the insurgency started back in the 1990s. Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will again impose a brutal, repressive government, all but eliminating women’s rights and conducting public executions.”
Also on August 13, the U.S. asked the Taliban not to burn down or otherwise destroy the American embassy in Kabul upon capturing the Afghani capital, which now seemed both inevitable and imminent. Biden administration members understood that video footage of such an event would be a devastating humiliation for them.
On August 14, the Taliban seized control of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan’s last major northern city. This left only Kabul and Jalalabad under the control of the Afghan government.
Biden Doubles Down on August 31 Withdrawal Deadline
On August 14, 2021, President Biden declared that he would not change the U.S. decision to leave Afghanistan by August 31.
Biden Increases Total U.S. Troops Sent to Afghanistan, to 5,000 & Blames Trump for the Disaster
On August 14, 2021, Biden announced that because of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, he was increasing to 5,000 the number of U.S. troops deployed there to help evacuate American civilians. He also blamed former President Donald Trump for the chaos surrounding the troop withdrawal:
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces. Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board rebuked Biden as follows:
“Note that Mr. Biden is more critical of his predecessor than he is of the Taliban. The President has spent seven months ostentatiously overturning one Trump policy after another on foreign and domestic policy. Yet he now claims Afghanistan policy is the one he could do nothing about. This is a pathetic denial of his own agency, and it’s also a false choice. It’s as if Winston Churchill, with his troops surrounded at Dunkirk, had declared that Neville Chamberlain got him into this mess and the British had already fought too many wars on the Continent.”
Biden, in fact, reportedly ignored top military commanders, who recommended retaining a nominal American force in Afghanistan to help maintain security and facilitate a transfer of security responsibilities.
Biden Abandons the U.S. Embassy in Kabul
On August 14, 2021, CBS News reported: “The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan will be evacuated of all but a handful of key personnel within the next 36 hours.”
Taliban Seizes Presidential Palace & Prepares to Declare Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban entered the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul and was, at that point, in control of the entire country. “The group is soon expected to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reported The Epoch Times. That same day, Afghani President Ashraf Ghani resigned from power and fled Kabul. In an email to The Epoch Times, former Indian diplomat Rajiv Dogra wrote: “Taliban are rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the speed with which the Afghan forces crumbled…. But a ready and quick term to describe the events of last week would be, ‘Failure on all Fronts.’ Former President Ghani fled most non-heroically, leaving the Afghan people in a lurch…. The US has suffered a major loss of reputation; perhaps far more so than its exit from Vietnam. Its plea with the Taliban for the safe exit of its embassy staff was a groveling surrender by the ‘Sole Superpower’ of the world to a force of terror.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera TV, Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar said, “We have reached a victory that we couldn’t imagine,” adding that “now it’s about how we serve and secure our people, and ensure their good life to best of ability.”
Biden, Psaki, and Blinken Were All on Vacation When Kabul Fell to the Taliban
As the Taliban swarmed into Kabul to put the finishing touches on their conquest of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were all taking vacations. As The Washington Post reported:
“In June, U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that the Afghan government would hang on for at least another six months. By August, the dominant view was that the Taliban wasn’t likely to pose a serious threat to Kabul until late fall.
“American officials may have been urging [Afghan president] Ghani to show greater urgency. But their own actions suggested no immediate cause for alarm, with officials surrendering to the customary rhythms of Washington in August.
“On the Friday afternoon before Kabul fell, the White House was starting to empty out, as many of the senior staff prepared to take their first vacations of Biden’s young presidency. Earlier in the day, Biden had arrived [for his vacation] at Camp David, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was already in the Hamptons.
“But by Saturday, the fall of Mazar-e Sharif — site of furious battles between pro and anti-Taliban forces in the 1990s — convinced U.S. officials that they needed to scramble. How quickly was a subject of dispute between the Pentagon and State Department.”
On Monday, August 16, Biden and Psaki returned from their respective vacations to publicly address the crisis in Afghanistan.
With Kabul Airport Under Taliban Fire, the U.S. Embassy Tells Americans to “Shelter in Place”
On August 15, 2021 — amid reports that the Kabul Airport, a principal exit point from Afghanistan, was taking military fire from Taliban terrorists — the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan advised Americans in that country to “shelter in place” and to “not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight.”
Helicopters Rescue Americans from U.S. Embassy in Kabul
On August 15, 2021, TheBlaze.com reported:
“President Joe Biden’s failure in Afghanistan was put on prominent display Sunday when American Chinook helicopters were seen flying over the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul, transporting Americans from the U.S. Embassy to the city’s airport. The stunning visual drew countless comparisons to the infamous withdrawal in 1975 of Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Worse yet, Communist China seized on the moment to mock America. Taliban fighters entered Kabul on Sunday […] demanding an unconditional surrender by the Afghanistan government.”
At that time, there were approximately 11,000 American civilians remaining in Afghanistan.
Taliban Capture Bagram Air Base and Release Thousands of Taliban & Al-Qaeda Prisoners
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban captured Bagram Air Base and released 5,000 to 7,000 inmates who were being held in a prison located on the Air Base. Those prisoners included many of the Taliban’s most hardened fighters and many senior al Qaeda operatives.
Taliban Fighters Celebrate Amid Chaos
On August 15, 2021, The Blaze.com reported:
“Heavily-armed Taliban commanders effortlessly entered Kabul’s presidential palace after it was abandoned by Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, who fled to Tajikistan…. From the presidential palace, the ruling Taliban leadership is soon expected to restore the country as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which was the formal name of the country before the Taliban was dethroned after 9/11 by U.S.-led forces…. There was a far different energy at the Kabul airport, where panicked people attempted to flee the country. Swarms of people are seen in videos clamoring to gain access to the last few flights before the Taliban imposes a vice-like grip on Afghanistan…. Video shows pandemonium inside the jam-packed Kabul International Airport, formally known as Hamid Karzai International Airport. There was complete chaos on the tarmac as hordes of people in despair search for a way to escape the country. With extreme urgency, people try to board a cargo plane.”
Biden Turns Down Taliban Offer to Let U.S. Control Kabul Airport Until August 31
On August 15, 2021 — the day the city of Kabul fell to the Taliban — Taliban leaders offered President Biden an opportunity to place the U.S. military in control of the airport in Kabul until August 31, according to an August 28 report in The Washington Post. Said the Post story: “In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha — including [Gen. Kenneth] McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command — spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.” In that meeting, Baradar said, “We have a problem. We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.” As the Post put it: “On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.”
Biden chose to allow the Taliban to control the airport’s security as well as the rest of the city.
Chaos & Panic at Kabul Airport
On August 16, 2021, social media was abuzz with numerous disturbing videos of desperate, terrified Afghans — fearful that they would be executed by the newly restored Taliban regime — clinging to U.S. Air Force planes in the process of taking off at a Kabul airport. Some videos showed people falling from the planes to their deaths shortly after takeoff.
Taliban Warns That All U.S. Troops Must Leave by September 11
On August 17, 2021, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban’s political office, warned that U.S. troops in Afghanistan had to leave the country by September 11—the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist terrorist attacks of 2001.
Biden Says There Was No Way for the U.S. to Leave Afghanistan “Without Chaos”
In an August 18, 2021 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden said: “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out [of Afghanistan] without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.” This was a stark departure from Biden’s March 25 pronouncement that America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would be done “a safe and orderly way.”
Biden Says U.S. Will Stay in Afghanistan Until All Americans Seeking Evacuation Have Been Rescued
In the same August 18, 2021 interview with George Stephanopoulos, Biden vowed to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline if there were still American citizens there who had not yet been rescued:
STEPHANOPOULOS: All troops are supposed to be out by August 31st. Even if Americans and our Afghan allies are still trying to get out, they’re gonna leave?
BIDEN: We’re gonna do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that mean troops will stay beyond August 31st if necessary?
BIDEN: It depends on where we are and whether we can get– ramp these numbers up to 5,000 to 7,000 a day coming out. If that’s the case, we’ll be– they’ll all be out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ‘Cause we’ve got, like, 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now, right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out–
STEPHANOPOULOS: — is out?
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about our Afghan allies? We have about 80,000 people–
BIDEN: Well, that’s not the s–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that too high?
BIDEN: That’s too high.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How many–
BIDEN: The estimate we’re giving is somewhere between 50,000 and 65,000 folks total, counting their families.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the commitment hold for them as well?
BIDEN: The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone that should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now, that’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond August 31st?
BIDEN: No. Americans should understand that we’re gonna try to get it done before August 31st.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if we don’t, the troops will stay–
BIDEN: If — if we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left.
BIDEN: And if you’re American force — if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out.
Massive Amounts of U.S. Weapons Seized by Taliban
When the Taliban terrorists took control of Afghanistan, they took possession of some $85 billion worth of military arms and equipment. This included approximately 75,000 war vehicles (including 50,000 tactical vehicles, 22,174 Humvees, and 1,000 mine-resistant vehicles), 600,000 weapons (including 358,530 M4 and M16 rifles, 126,295 pistols, and 25,000 grenade launchers), and 208 airplanes/helicopters. According to Republican congressman Jim Banks, “The Taliban now has more Black Hawk helicopters than 85 percent of the countries in the world.” “We’ve made the Taliban into a major U.S. arms dealer for the next decade,” said Adam Andrzejewski, CEO & founder of the watchdog group Open the Books.
In addition, the Taliban now had access to night-vision goggles, body armor, medical supplies, and biometric devices containing fingerprints, eye scans, and biographical information of Afghan allies who had helped the United States during the preceding 20 years.
Biden Orders Federal Agencies to Scrub Websites That Detail the Weaponry Now in Taliban Hands
The Biden State Department acknowledged that Administration officials had recently directed federal agencies to scrub their websites of official reports that contained any details about the massive amount of military equipment the U.S. had left behind in Afghanistan. Forbes magazine reported: “The scrubbed audits and reports included detailed accounting of what the U.S. had provided to Afghan forces, down to the number of night vision devices, hand grenades, Black Hawk helicopters, and armored vehicles.” In an attempt to justify the scrubbing, a State Department spokesperson said: “The safety of our Afghan contacts is of utmost importance to us. The State Department advised other federal agencies of to [sic] review their web properties for content that highlights cooperation/participation between an Afghan citizen and the USG or a USG partner and remove from public view if it poses a security risk.” But as USSANews.com pointed out: “It’s worth noting that the Biden administration already put these partners at risk when officials provided lists of Afghan nationals to the Taliban in a misguided attempt to clear them for evacuation. The Taliban, a known terrorist organization with a history of murdering Afghan citizens working alongside U.S. forces, should never have been trusted with those names.”
The Biometric Data Seized by the Taliban
On August 17, 2021, TheIntercept.com reported:
“The Taliban have seized U.S. military biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces, current and former military officials have told The Intercept. The devices, known as HIIDE, for Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, were seized last week during the Taliban’s offensive, according to a Joint Special Operations Command official and three former U.S. military personnel, all of whom worried that sensitive data they contain could be used by the Taliban. HIIDE devices contain identifying biometric data such as iris scans and fingerprints, as well as biographical information, and are used to access large centralized databases. It’s unclear how much of the U.S. military’s biometric database on the Afghan population has been compromised.
“While billed by the U.S. military as a means of tracking terrorists and other insurgents, biometric data on Afghans who assisted the U.S. was also widely collected and used in identification cards, sources said. ‘We processed thousands of locals a day, had to ID, sweep for suicide vests, weapons, intel gathering, etc.’ a U.S. military contractor explained. ‘[HIIDE] was used as a biometric ID tool to help ID locals working for the coalition.’”
Taliban Places the Murderous Haqqani Network in Charge of Airport Security
By August 19, 2021, senior members of the Taliban offshoot group, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani Network (HN), had been placed in charge of security at the Kabul airport, through which everyone seeking to leave Afghanistan would have to be funneled. The man leading HN’s airport-security efforts was Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, the uncle of HN leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. The U.S. Treasury Department had designated Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani as a global terrorist in February 2011, offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his apprehension; the United Nations had also named Mr. Haqqani on its terrorist list.
As The Wall Street Journal noted: “Western intelligence officials say the assignment [of HN] is alarming and undercuts Taliban promises to tread a more moderate path than the movement did when it ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. It also raises the prospect of al-Qaida being welcomed back to Afghanistan, they fear, which would break promises made by Taliban leaders during diplomatic talks in Qatar with U.S. officials last year, not to allow the country to again become a safe haven for foreign jihadists.”
“The fact we have Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani in charge of Kabul security is dismaying,” a British intelligence official told Voice Of America, “The Haqqani and al-Qaida have a long history together, you could argue they are intertwined, and it is highly unlikely they will cut ties [with one another].” According to retired senior British diplomat Ivor Roberts, placing HN in charge of security in Kabul was akin to the “fox being put in charge of a chicken coop.” “I don’t think they will ever cut ties with al-Qaida,” added Roberts. “They’re deeply embedded with al-Qaida and always have been.”
Taliban Conduct Door-to-Door Manhunt
On August 19, 2021, The Epoch Times reported:
“The Taliban terrorist group is carrying out a highly organized door-to-door manhunt for people on their wanted list, according to the head of a nonprofit providing intelligence to the United Nations. ‘They have lists of individuals and even within the very first hours of moving into Kabul they began a search of former government employees—especially in intelligence services and the special forces units,’ Christian Nellemann, head of the Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, told the BBC Thursday…. Nellemann said the Taliban have a ‘more advanced intelligence system’ when moving into all major Afghan cities, including the capital of Kabul. That not only could lead to mass executions, but also a mass reveal of the intelligence networks that the West has provided Afghanistan.”
These facts were in direct contradiction to statements the Taliban had previously released. For example, Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, had falsely said on Afghan state television: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghanistan, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently.” Similarly, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had stated: “We will pardon all those who became masters against jihad, and this special pardon is because we do not want war again, and to let war be repeated and the elements of the war remain. We are assuring the safety of all those who have worked with the United States and allied forces, whether as interpreters or any other field that they worked with them.”
Biden Wrongly Says Al-Qaeda Is “Gone” from Afghanistan
During an August 20, 2021 press conference, Biden questioned why the U.S. needed to have a military presence in Afghanistan. “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” he said. “We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as getting Osama bin Laden. And we did.”
Taliban Is “Hunting Down” Journalists
On August 20, 2021, TheBlaze.com reported:
“Despite promising ‘amnesty’ to Afghan residents who worked with Western governments and organizations during the last 20 years of U.S. military occupation, Taliban forces in Afghanistan are now reportedly ‘hunting down‘ journalists and other supposed dissidents in order to execute them. According to German news outlet Deutsche Welle, bloodthirsty militants on Thursday shot and killed a family member of an Afghan journalist who works with the Western media organization. DW director general Peter Limbourg said the heinous attack was carried out during a house-to-house revenge search, during which another one of the unnamed journalist’s family members was seriously injured. …
“The New York Times on Friday [August 20] detailed several other reports of the Taliban carrying out violence against Afghan journalists over the last several days: ‘Amdullah Hamdard, 33, who learned English as a teenager and translated for U.S. Special Forces — they gave him the nickname Huggy Bear — had spent the last four years working with Die Zeit newspaper. He was murdered by Taliban fighters on the street near his home in Jalalabad, the paper reported … On Thursday, Taliban fighters beat two Afghan journalists while violently dispersing a protest in the eastern city of Jalalabad. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog group, noted other attacks against journalists in recent days, including the fatal shooting on Aug. 9 of a radio station manager in Kabul, and the kidnapping of a reporter in Helmand Province. Afghan press freedom groups blamed the Taliban for both incidents.
“An American journalist, Wesley Morgan, tweeted this week, ‘Taliban searching my former interpreter’s house (he’s hiding out elsewhere and can see it via the app on his phone from his home security cameras).’
“The violence is in direct contradiction to the public messaging espoused by Taliban leadership since taking control of the country in recent days.”
Biden Downplays & Lies about State Department Warning of Afghanistan Collapse
On August 20, 2021, President Biden on Friday downplayed the significance of a confidential State Department cable he had received in July, which warned that if the U.S. withdrew precipitously from Afghanistan, the government could collapse at the hands of the Taliban. A reporter asked Biden: “We learned over the last 24 hours that there was a dissent cable from the State Department saying that the Taliban would come faster through Afghanistan. Can you say after why that cable was issued that the U.S. didn’t do more to get more Americans out?” To that, Biden replied: “I have all kinds of cables, all kinds of advice. If you notice, it ranges from this group saying that they didn’t say when it would fall when it did fall, to saying it wouldn’t happen for a long time and they’d be able to sustain themselves until the end of the year. I made the decision, the buck stops with me. I took the consensus opinion. The consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it were to occur, later in the year. It was my decision.”
The revelation about the contents of the State Department cable contradicted what Biden had told ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos on August 18, 2021: “[T]he intelligence community did not say back in June or July that, in fact, this [Afghanistan] was gonna collapse like it did.”
Taliban Mock America with Propaganda Photo
On August 21, 2021, the Taliban released a propaganda photo on the Internet showing the Badri 313 Battalion, the Taliban’s special elite commando unit, donning U.S. military uniforms and hoisting up the Taliban flag in nearly the exact same pose that six U.S. Marines were in when, in the iconic WWII photo, they raised an American flag during on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
Biden Administration Says It Is No Longer Safe for Americans to Go to Kabul Airport Because of Threats from ISIS
On August 21, 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul told Americans wishing to leave Afghanistan that it was no longer safe to travel to the Kabul airport. “Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the security alert said. According to an Associated Press report, the Islamic State‘s branch in Afghanistan was threatening to attack Americans seeking to be evacuated from Kabul. Added the AP: “The Islamic State group — which has long declared a desire to attack America and U.S. interests abroad — has been active in Afghanistan for a number of years, carrying out waves of horrific attacks, mostly on the Shiite minority. The group has been repeatedly targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent years, as well as Taliban attacks. But officials say fragments of the group are still active in Afghanistan, and the U.S. is concerned about it reconstituting in a larger way as the country comes under divisive Taliban rule.”
Additionally, a defense official told Fox News, “There are other terrorists groups we are concerned about as well.” That official also declined to provide further details.
Biden’s Lie about the Afghanistan Crisis Is Exposed
In his August 18, 2021 interview with ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos, Biden denied media reports that claiming that he had “overruled” his top military commanders vis-a-vis the strategy for withdrawing the U.S. from Afghanistan. One of those media reports was a Wall Street Journal story that said: “In contrast to the numerous Trump policies he reversed, he opted to carry out Mr. Trump’s deal with the Taliban instead of trying to renegotiate it. In so doing, he overruled his top military commanders: Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Citing the risks of removing American forces to Afghan security and the U.S. Embassy, they recommended that the U.S. keep 2,500 [non-combat] troops in Afghanistan while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement.”
In his denial of that story, Biden told Stephanopoulos: “No, they didn’t. It was split. That wasn’t true.” When Stephanopoulos pressed Biden on whether he had ignored the advice of the generals, the president again said, “No.”
But in an August 22, 2021 interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” host Chuck Todd asked Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, why the massive Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan had been shut down before all American and Afghan allies were evacuated from the country. Sullivan said it was because military and national security advisers had said the base could be closed.
Todd then asked: “So, you followed the military advice on closing Bagram. But the same military advisers were telling you to keep a force on the ground. They were — they told you not to pursue this withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, correct?”
Sullivan replied by explaining that the decision to fully withdraw American troops from Afghanistan was ultimately Biden’s, regardless of what the military commanders may have advised. Said Sullivan: “There are strategic judgments that a president makes. And there are tactical judgments that you give absolute premium to the commanders on the ground to make. If a commander on the ground says, ‘I need this resource or this move to accomplish my mission or keep my people safe,’ you weigh that very heavily. But when it comes to the fundamental question of whether the United States should remain in a civil war in Afghanistan with American men and women fighting and dying for a third decade, that is a presidential call, not a call by anyone at the Pentagon or the State Department or the intelligence community.”
Taliban Says It Will Neither Allow Afghans to Leave the Country, Nor Extend the Deadline for Americans to Leave
On August 24, 2021, the Taliban announced that it would no longer allow Afghan nationals to enter the Kabul airport in order to leave the country. “We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. Moreover, Mujahid stated that Americans could continue to leave until the August 31 deadline, but not thereafter: “They [the Americans] … can take all the people that belong to them but we are not going to allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline” (for Americans). Another Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, agreed: “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on August 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation.”
Taliban Brutality Against Women, Christians, & Afghans Who Had Helped the West
On August 24, 2021, TheBlaze.com reported:
“Several reports have surfaced in recent days indicating that Taliban fighters are executing door-to-door searches and carrying out execution campaigns on women, Christians, and those who worked with the West during the last 20 years of U.S. military occupation.
ISIS Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan Kills 13 U.S. Servicemen & More Than 160 Afghani Civilians
On August 26, 2021, a terrorist associated with ISIS walked past Taliban security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan and carried a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. servicemen, 3 Britons, and more than 170 Afghani civilians. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his organization would conduct a “Taliban investigation” into the attack. Meanwhile, Afghan resistance leader Amrullah Saleh, claiming to be Afghanistan’s acting president according to its constitution, said that the Taliban was actually responsible for the blast.
Biden Had Advance Knowledge of the Kabul Suicide Bombing
A few days after the devastating suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, Politico.com reported the following:
Just 24 hours before a suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, senior military leaders gathered for the Pentagon’s daily morning update on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Speaking from a secure video conference room on the third floor of the Pentagon at 8 a.m. Wednesday — or 4:30 p.m. in Kabul — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin instructed more than a dozen of the department’s top leaders around the world to make preparations for an imminent “mass casualty event.” […] During the meeting, Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of “significant” intelligence indicating that the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, ISIS-K, was planning a “complex attack.” […] Commanders calling in from Kabul relayed that the Abbey Gate, where American citizens had been told to gather in order to gain entrance to the airport, was “highest risk,” and detailed their plans to protect the airport. “I don’t believe people get the incredible amount of risk on the ground,” Austin said, according to the classified notes.
On a separate call at 4 that afternoon, or 12:30 a.m. on Thursday in Kabul, the commanders detailed a plan to close Abbey Gate by Thursday afternoon Kabul time. But the Americans decided to keep the gate open longer than they wanted in order to allow their British allies, who had accelerated their withdrawal timeline, to continue evacuating their personnel, based at the nearby Baron Hotel. American troops were still processing entrants to the airport at Abbey Gate at roughly 6 p.m. in Kabul on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest there, killing nearly 200 people, including 13 U.S. service members. […]
The intelligence about the security threat at Kabul airport detailed on the calls was relayed up and down the chain of command, according to a … defense official. […]
Throughout the evacuation effort, the Taliban have instituted curfews and expanded the security perimeter around the airport in an effort to help the Americans increase security, the defense official said. But the military leaders on the call expressed frustration with the Taliban’s persistent lack of cooperation, noting that militants were turning potential evacuees away at the gates. […] According to the classified call notes, [Central Command chief Gen. Frank] McKenzie made clear the Americans did not have much of a choice in relying on the Taliban for securing the evacuees. And he predicted the militants would be less willing to help the U.S. military effort the longer they stayed in Kabul, even as the threat from ISIS-K increased. […] “The ability of [the Taliban] to protect us and assist in pursuing [American citizens] and other groups — that willingness will decay, and we’re seeing leading edge indicators of that today,” McKenzie said on the Wednesday morning call. “We do need the agreement of the [Taliban] to pursue our principal objectives of getting out [American citizens] and other priority groups.”
Jen Psaki Reluctantly Admits That the U.S. Is Negotiating with Terrorists in Afghanistan
On August 26, 2021 — in the midst of a disastrous U.S. military withdrawal that had left Afghanistan entirely in the control of Taliban and ISIS terrorists while thousands of American civilians remained trapped inside that country — Fox News’ Peter Doocy, knowing that the Biden administration was relying heavily on Taliban leaders to allow those Americans to leave the country, asked Psaki: “Why haven’t we heard the president say, ‘The United States does not negotiate with terrorists?’ Is that still U.S. policy?” Psaki replied: “Well, of course it is, Peter. But I would also say that there’s a reality that the Taliban is currently controlling large swaths of Afghanistan. That is the reality on the ground, and right now our focus and our priority is getting American citizens evacuated and our Afghan partners evacuated.”
Another reporter asked Psaki whether the Biden administration had offered the Taliban any cash or supplies in exchange for not disrupting America’s evacuation effort. “No, this is not a ‘quid pro quo,’” Psaki answered. “We have laid out clearly what our expectations are about moving American citizens and our Afghan partners, allies, out of the country and that’s what we’re working to deliver on.”
U.S. Gave the Taliban a List of Names of Americans & Afghan Allies to Evacuate
With the Taliban having surrounded and taken control of the airport in Kabul, the Biden administration relied on the Taliban — to whom it referred as “our Afghan partners” — to provide security in the vicinity of the airport. Consequently, U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders, dual nationals, lawful permanent residents, and Afghan allies who had helped America’s anti-Taliban efforts during the preceding 20 years. The purpose of the list was to identify people for whom the U.S. wished to secure safe passage through the Taliban’s many checkpoints along the airport perimeter. The decision to provide the Taliban with this list was particularly fraught with danger, however, in light of the fact that the Taliban had been going door-to-door in search of Afghan interpreters and others who had helped American and Western forces in recent years. “Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” said one U.S. defense official. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
Hundreds of Americans Remain Stranded in Afghanistan After the Last Military Flight
After the final American military plane had departed Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport a few hours before dawn on August 30, 2021, the Pentagon acknowledged that hundreds of Americans seeking evacuation had been left behind. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), placed the number “in the low hundreds.” “There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” said McKenzie, calling it a “tough situation” and noting that even if U.S. troops had remained in Afghanistan for an additional 10 days, “we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out … and there still would’ve been people who would’ve been disappointed.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on August 30 that the United States would continue to try to rescue the Americans remaining in Afghanistan by either working with Afghanistan’s neighbors or by means of charter flights out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, which was now in the hands of the Taliban. “The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission,” said Blinken. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now and then in a week or a month or a year, they reach out and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help them leave.”
SOS Antony Blinken Says U.S. Will Work with Taliban & Is Condemned by Retired Marine Corps Bomb Technician
On August 30, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “If we can work with a new Afghan government [led by the Taliban] in a way that helped secure [U.S.] interests … and in a way that brings greater stability to the country and region and protects the gains of the past two decades, we will do it. But we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith. Every step we take will be based not on what a Taliban like government says, but what it does to live up to its commitments. The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is, any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned.”
In response to Blinken’s remarks, retired Marine Corps bomb technician Johnny Joey Jones, a double-amputee, said: “I don’t trust politicians or trust this type of diplomacy any further than can I throw it – and a guy with no legs can’t throw real far. I will tell you I believe in the men and women I served with I believe in the pureness of our intent: And when the secretary of state stands up there and tells me that the people who killed my brothers and took my legs can earn our trust? Well, thank God this is television news and not just a casual conversation because I would have words for him nobody wants to hear.”
Nearly 90 Retired Generals & Admirals Call on Gen. Milley & Austin to Resign
On August 30, 2021, a group of nearly 90 retired U.S. generals and admirals issued a letter calling for the resignations of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley because of their roles in the disastrous U.S. troop withdrawal out of Afghanistan. Said the letter:
The retired Flag Officers signing this letter are calling for the resignation and retirement of the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) based on negligence in performing their duties primarily involving events surrounding the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. The hasty retreat has left initial estimates at ~15,000 Americans stranded in dangerous areas controlled by a brutal enemy along with ~25,000 Afghan citizens who supported American forces.
What should have happened upon learning of the Commander in Chief’s (President Biden’s) plan to quickly withdraw our forces and close the important power projection base Bagram, without adequate plans and forces in place to conduct the entire operation in an orderly fashion?
As principal military advisors to the CINC/President, the SECDEF and CJCS should have recommended against this dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms. If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign. Conversely, if they did do everything within their ability to persuade the CINC/President to not hastily exit the country without ensuring the safety of our citizens and Afghans loyal to America, then they should have resigned in protest as a matter of conscience and public statement.
The consequences of this disaster are enormous and will reverberate for decades beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are unable to move safely to evacuation points; therefore, being de facto hostages of the Taliban at this time. The death and torture of Afghans has already begun and will result in a human tragedy of major proportions. The loss of billions of dollars in advanced military equipment and supplies falling into the hands of our enemies is catastrophic. The damage to the reputation of the United States is indescribable. We are now seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner in any multinational agreement or operation. Trust in the United States is irreparably damaged.
Moreover, now our adversaries are emboldened to move against America due to the weakness displayed in Afghanistan. China benefits the most followed by Russia, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and others. Terrorists around the world are emboldened and able to pass freely into our country through our open border with Mexico.
Besides these military operational reasons for resignations, there are leadership, training, and morale reasons for resignations. In interviews, congressional testimony, and public statements it has become clear that top leaders in our military are placing mandatory emphasis on PC “wokeness” related training which is extremely divisive and harmful to unit cohesion, readiness, and war fighting capability. Our military exists to fight and win our Nation’s wars and that must be the sole focus of our top military leaders.
For these reasons we call on the SECDEF Austin and the CJCS General Milley to resign. A fundamental principle in the military is holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions. There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle.
Psaki Falsely Says No One Could Have Predicted the Taliban’s Quick Conquest of Afghanistan
During an August 31, 2021 press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended President Biden’s chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Asked whether the Biden administration had adequately prepared for the withdrawal process, she replied: “I don’t think anyone assessed that they [the Afghan army and government] would collapse as quickly as they did. Anyone — anyone in this room, anyone anywhere in the world.” But contrary to Psaki’s comments, ABC News had in fact reported on August 15: “'[U.S.] leaders were told by the military it would take no time at all for the Taliban to take everything,’ an anonymous U.S. intelligence official told ABC News. ‘No one listened.’ The intelligence community assessment has always been accurate; they just disregarded it,’ the official reportedly added, speaking about the Biden administration.”
Biden Calls Afghanistan Withdrawal an “Extraordinary Success”
In an August 31, 2021 national address, Biden characterized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as an “extraordinary success.” “We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety,” he said. “No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. […] The bottom line: 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. And for those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to getting them out if they want to come out.”
Also in his speech, Biden acknowledged that his “assumption” that the Afghan National Security Forces would have been able to defend themselves more effectively against the Taliban, “turned out not to be accurate.” Nevertheless, the president said: “We were ready” vis-a-vis the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country. “Let me be clear,” he added. “Leaving August the 31st was not due to an arbitrary deadline; it was designed to save American lives. Now some say, ‘We should have started mass evacuations sooner’ and ‘Couldn’t this have been done in a more orderly manner? I respectfully disagree.”
Taliban Supporters Hold Mock Funeral for U.S. and NATO
On August 31, 2021, Taliban supporters in the city of Khost in southeastern Afghanistan held a “mock funeral” for the United States and its NATO allies, featuring flag-draped coffins covered with American, British, French, and NATO flags. Meanwhile, Taliban flags were raised as symbols of victory over America and its allies, and participants fired guns into the air in celebration. “August 31 is our formal Freedom Day,” said one Taliban official. “On this day, American occupying forces and NATO forces fled the country.” Reuters reported: “Other images shared online on Tuesday showed Taliban members walking through Kabul airport in U.S.-supplied fatigues, some brandishing gleaming rifles and others trying out state-of-the-art night vision goggles or sizing up U.S. helicopters.”
Al-Qaeda released a statement praising the Taliban for: (a) its “great victory against the Crusader alliance” of “invading imperialist powers”; (b) “humiliating and defeating America, the head of disbelief”; (c) “breaking America’s back”; and (d) making Afghanistan “an impregnable fortress of Islam.”
Biden Says Only 100 to 200 Americans Remain in Afghanistan
An original White House report stated that approximately 11,000 Americans were in Afghanistan shortly before its collapse. After the evacuation process was over, Biden claimed that the U.S. had evacuated some 5,500 Americans from that country, while also boasting that “90 percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave.” But 5,500 does not equal 90 percent of 11,000.
On August 31, 2021 as well, cited an even lower number: “Now, we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan, with some intention to leave. Most of those who remain are dual citizens, longtime residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.”
Biden Disrespects Grieving Mother of Young Soldier Lost in the Afghanistan Withdrawal Debacle
On August 30, 2021, Shana Chappell, the mother of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, excoriated President Biden on Facebook for having disrespected her — and the memory of her son — when she met with Biden at an August 29 ceremony for the “dignified transfer” of Kareem’s remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Said Ms. Chappell in her post:
President Joe Biden: This msg is for you! I know my face is etched into your brain! I was able to look you straight in the eyes yesterday and have words with you. After i lay my son to rest you will be seeing me again! Remember i am the one who stood 5 inches from your face and was letting you know i would never get to hug my son again, hear his laugh and then you tried to interrupt me and give me your own sob story and i had to tell you “that this isn’t about you so don’t make it about you!!!” You then said you just wanted me to know that you know how i feel and i let you know that you don’t know how i feel and you do not have the right to tell me you know how i feel! U then rolled your fucking eyes in your head like you were annoyed with me and i let you know that the only reason i was talking to you was out of respect for my son and that was the only reason why, i then proceeded to tell you again how you took my son away from me and how i will never get to hug him, kiss him, laugh with him again etc… u turned to walk away and i let you know my sons blood was on your hands and you threw your hand up behind you as you walked away from me like you were saying “ ok whatever!!! You are not the president of the United States of America Biden!!!! Cheating isn’t winning!!!You are no leader of any kind! You are a weak human being and a traitor!!!! You turned your back on my son, on all of our Heros!!! you are leaving the White House one way or another because you do not belong there!MY SONS BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS!!! All 13 of them, their blood is on your hands!!!! If my president Trump was in his rightful seat then my son and the other Heros would still be alive!!!! You will be seeing me again very soon!!! Btw as my son and the rest of our fallen Heros were being taken off the plane yesterday i watched you disrespect us all 5 different times by checking your watch!!! What the fuck was so important that you had to keep looking at your watch????You are nobody special Biden!!! America Hates you!!!!!”
As Taliban Holds Americans Hostage, Biden Administration Says There Is Little It Can Do
On September 5, 2021, it was reported that the Taliban was preventing six planes holding an estimated 100 American citizens and 1,000 Afghan nationals seeking to leave Afghanistan, from taking off via Mazar-i-Sharif international airport. In a document sent to members of Congress, the State Department said the flights would only depart “if and when the Taliban agrees to takeoff.” “The Taliban is basically holding them hostage to get more out of the Americans,” a congressional source told CBS News.
Said a State Department spokesman: “We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan. However, we do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace — whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region.” Adding that the Department did not have any “reliable means” by which it could verify the identity of the passengers, the spokesman added: “Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues.”
The six stranded planes were chartered by The Nazarene Fund-Mercury One, a charity founded by conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck, who, in light of the U.S. military’s recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, was seeking to facilitate the evacuation of the Americans an their Afghani allies who had been left behind. According to Beck, the planes were stranded not because the Taliban had refused to grant them permission to depart, but because U.S. State Department officials had intervened and asked that all the passengers, in Beck’s words, “go back into the airport and hand everything [their documents] in to the Taliban.” “They were dismissed from the airport while the State Department works this out with the Taliban,” Beck continued, adding: “This was like the State Department sending up flares, saying [to the Taliban], ‘Hey, look over here.'”
State Department Obstructs Private Rescue Flights from Afghanistan
On September 8, 2021, Fox News reported:
“The State Department refused to grant official approval for private evacuation flights from Afghanistan to land in third countries, even though the department conceded that official authorization would likely be needed for planes to land in those nations, an email reviewed by Fox News shows. Furthermore, the State Department explicitly stated that charter flights, even those containing American citizens, would not be allowed to land at Defense Department (DOD) airbases. U.S. officials have pointed to possible security threats from landing charter planes at military bases, saying that they lack the resources on the ground to fully verify flight manifests.
“The Biden administration’s delaying of private evacuation efforts has been a widespread source of frustration, infuriating rescue organizers and even a prominent Democratic senator. Eric Montalvo, who organized a series of private flights evacuating those stranded in Afghanistan, shared that email and others with Fox News after his evacuation efforts were repeatedly hampered by the federal bureaucracy. A Sept. 1 email that a State Department official sent to Montalvo underscores the extent to which private evacuation efforts have run into bureaucratic roadblocks. ‘No independent charters are allowed to land at [Al Udeid Air Base], the military airbase you mentioned in your communication with Samantha Power. In fact, no charters are allowed to land at an [sic] DoD base and most if not all countries in the Middle Eastern region, with the exception of perhaps Saudi Arabia will allow charters to land,’ the official wrote. ‘You need to find another destination country, and it can’t be the U.S. either.’
“The official noted that though some third countries ‘may require’ official approval from the State Department before accepting the private charter flights, the department ‘will not provide’ that approval. ‘Once you have had discussions with the host/destination country and reached an agreement, they may require some indication from the USG that we ‘approve’ of this charter flight. DOS will not provide an approval, but we will provide a ‘no objection’ to the destination country government via the U.S. Embassy in that country.’”
Four of the Five U.S. Guantanamo Prisoners Whom President Obama Exchanged for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014 Now Head the New Taliban Government
In 2014, President Obama traded five terrorists who had been in custody at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had deserted the American military while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. In an email he had sent to his father just days before his desertion, Bergdahl wrote: “I am sorry for everything here. These [Afghani] people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world [the U.S.] telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.” “I am ashamed to be an American,” Bergdahl added. “And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
On September 7, 2021, Fox News reported:
“Four out of five Guantanamo detainees whom former President Barack Obama released in exchange for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014 now hold senior positions in the interim government created by the Taliban in Afghanistan. According to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government gave leadership positions to Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl; all of whom were released in a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl, whom the Taliban had held as a prisoner since 2009.
“On [September 7], the Taliban announced that Khairkhwa would serve as acting minister for information and culture, Noori would serve as acting minister of borders and tribal affairs, Wasiq would serve as acting director of intelligence, and Fazl would serve as deputy defense minister. […]
“Late last month, following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban announced that Mohammad Nabi Omari, another former Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) detainee with close ties to al Qaeda, would govern Khost Province.”
Biden Administration Officials Had Praised Obama’s Prisoner Swap for Bergdahl in 2014
At the time of Obama’s 2014 prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl, then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (who would become President Biden’s press secretary in 2021) and then-deputy national security adviser Antony Blinken (who would become Biden’s Secretary of State in 2021) both praised the deal.
“Was it worth it? Absolutely,” said Psaki in a 2015 interview. “We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military, defending our national security every day, that we’re going to do everything to bring them home if we can, and that’s what we did in this case.” she added.
Blinken, for his part, said that the freed Taliban members would be “very carefully monitored,” and that “any threat they would pose to the United States [and] to Americans has been sufficiently mitigated.”
Defense Secretary Admits That Al Qaeda Might Fill Vacuum in Afghanistan
During a September 8, 2021 press event in Kuwait City, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin acknowledged the possibility that al Qaeda might fill the power vacuum that the Biden administration had left behind in Afghanistan. “I think the whole community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al Qaeda has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan,” he told reporters. “The nature of al Qaeda and ISIS-K is that, you know, they will always attempt to find space to grow and regenerate, whether it’s there, whether it’s in Somalia, whether it’s in any other ungoverned space,” Austin added. “I think that’s the nature of the organization.”
Top Generals Directly Contradict Biden’s Lies about Afghanistan Withdrawal
During a classified Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on September 14, 2021, General Austin Miller, who had served as Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2018 through July 2021, said he had warned President Biden against withdrawing all American forces from Afghanistan. This was because, in his opinion, the Afghan military would be unable to fend off the Taliban and would be overrun quickly and decisively.
As Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich wrote: “According to two members present for the [September 14] hearing, Gen Miller passed his recommendations through the chain of command — that the U.S. should keep a level of troops on the ground (2500 was the number at the time) in order to maintain stability given the Taliban threat assessment. Miller’s view was [that] troops should maintain [a] holding pattern – potentially supplemented by add[itional] forces from allied nations – given the threat. Miller shared no recommendation on how long forces should have stayed, making clear he didn’t know what the end timeline would be.”
“Miller also said that he strongly dissented with the intel assessment that Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban between 1-3 years, saying he thought it would go much, much faster,” Heinrich continued. “Miller also said once his recommendation was turned down, it became his job to execute on the withdrawal order – and eventually, decisions like abandoning Bagram were made because of constraints and troop caps imposed by the President’s orders.”
A separate Fox News reporter concurred that General Miller had repeatedly warned Biden against pulling out of Afghanistan too quickly and completely.
On September 28, 2021, three other top U.S. military leaders — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie — testified under oath before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In their testimony, they, too, directly contradicted what President Biden had told the American public during an August 19 interview with newsman George with Stephanopoulos regarding America’s chaotic military and civilian withdrawal from Afghanistan. That exchange with Stephanopoulos had gone as follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.
BIDEN: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?
BIDEN: No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that’?
BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall. Look, George, the reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last president said, ‘We’re leaving. And here’s the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st.’
In the September 28 hearing, General McKenzie told Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that he had recommended to Biden that the U.S. needed to “maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan” and that a failure to do so would “lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.” General Milley later told Inhofe that he agreed with McKenzie’s assessment. The key remarks were as follows:
INHOFE: But I’d ask General McKenzie, did you agree to the recommendation that General Miller had two weeks ago?
MCKENZIE: Senator, again, I won’t I won’t share my personal recommendation to the President. But I will give you my honest opinion. And my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation. I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. And I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020, that we maintain 4,500 at that time, those are my personal views. I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.
INHOFE: Yes, I understand that. And General Milley, I assume you agree with that in terms of the recommendation of 2,500.
MILLEY: What I said in my opening statement, and the memoranda that I wrote back in the fall of 2020, remained consistent. And I do agree with that.
INHOFE: This committee is unsure as to whether or not general Miller’s recommendation ever got to the President. You know, obviously, they’re conversations with the President. But I would like to ask even though, General McKenzie, I think you’ve all made the statement. Did you talk to the President about general Miller’s recommendation?
MCKENZIE: Sir, I was present when that discussion occurred. And I’m confident that the President heard all the recommendations and listened to [them] very thoughtfully.
General Lloyd Austin later agreed that Biden had indeed heard “this input.”
Email Shows That Biden Ordered Afghanistan Evacuation Flights Be Filled With Unvetted Refugees
On October 26, 2021, the Washington Free Beacon reported:
During America’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan earlier this year, the Biden administration issued a directive that evacuation flights be filled to “excess” with refugees who had not been properly vetted before arriving in America, according to an internal administration communication disclosed on Tuesday by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.). “Total inflow to the U.S. must exceed the number of seats available. Err on the side of excess,” reads an Aug. 16 email to U.S. officials involved in the exit from Afghanistan. “This guidance provides clear discretion and direction to fill seats and to provide special consideration for women and children when we have seats.”
Hawley, who says he obtained the email through a U.S. official who was outraged by the Biden administration’s failure to vet Afghan refugees flown into America, published the email Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. Hawley maintains that Afghan evacuees were not thoroughly screened with intensive interviews before they arrived in the United States.
“This email was shared [with] me by an American official present in Afghanistan during the evacuation who was shocked by administration’s failure to vet Afghans before they were evacuated,” Hawley wrote. “Email details orders from Joe Biden to fill up the planes—even without vetting.”
The email, which has the subject line “presidential directive,” provides some of the firmest proof to date that the Biden administration decided to forgo proper vetting procedures in its rush to evacuate scores of Afghans following the Taliban’s takeover just weeks after the U.S. military retreated from the country.
Hawley pressed the issues on Tuesday during a Senate hearing with Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for defense policy and the administration official largely responsible for overseeing the Biden administration’s botched evacuation.
“We now know that we’ve got major problems of vetting of the people who were brought to this country, who were evacuated and brought to this country,” Hawley said. “So, you testified in September that those evacuated, about 6,000 American citizens, you testified in September that the [Special Immigrant Visas] were about 1,200 to 1,300, that leaves about 116,700 people, based on the 124,000 neo-number that you’ve been offering, 116,700 people who were not citizens, who were not SIVs, and we just don’t know much about who were those people?”
Kahl, in response to Hawley’s questions, said that about 84 percent of the Afghans evacuated by the Biden administration were deemed to be at risk under Taliban rule. “It’s a mishmash of a lot of different categories,” Kahl said.
On November 24, 2021, the Washington Examiner reported the following:
Almost none of the 82,000 people airlifted from Kabul in August were vetted before being admitted to the United States, despite claims to the contrary from the Biden administration, according to a congressional memo summarizing interviews with federal officials who oversaw the effort at domestic and international military bases. Senior officials across the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Justice described a disastrous screening and vetting process in the memo, drafted by Senate Republicans in late October.
The Biden administration failed to vet the information that tens of thousands of Afghans provided through in-person interviews and relied solely on criminal and terrorist databases to flag bad actors, according to the memo — that is, merely screening, rather than vetting, people brought to the U.S.
The administration also brought into the U.S. tens of thousands of Afghans who were not qualified. The large majority of people, approximately 75%, evacuated were not American citizens, green card holders, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, or applicants for the visa, three people familiar with the interviews outlined in the memo told the Washington Examiner.
As of early October, just 700 of the 82,000 admitted into the U.S. were determined to hold Special Immigrant Visas, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ranking Republican Rob Portman of Ohio said in a Nov. 4 speech. A Special Immigration Visa, or SIV, is a special classification for foreigners granted permanent residency as a result of aiding the U.S. government during the war on terror. The DHS responded after this story was published stating that 1,800 were SIV holders, as of Sept. 21.
President Joe Biden and top Cabinet officials repeatedly claimed over the summer and fall that the government was rescuing SIV holders and U.S. allies as the Taliban took over in August.
A senior administration official said more than 40% of the 82,000 who made it to the U.S. were allies, meaning they are eligible for the visa but had not applied. The remaining roughly 60% were not eligible for the visa, and were defined by DHS as “namely family members of American citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, and individuals who had careers that would put them at risk.”
Of the 82,000 U.S. arrivals, 4,920 were U.S. citizens, 3,280 were lawful permanent residents, and the remaining 90%, or 73,800, were Afghan nationals. DHS did not further break down how many of the 73,800 were SIV applicants or ineligible for the visa.
By the End of 2021, Biden Resettles 75,000 (Mostly Unvetted) Afghans in the U.S.
On December 31, 2021, Breitbart.com reported:
“President Joe Biden has resettled more than 52,000 Afghans across American cities, towns, and communities this year, the latest Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data reveals, in the largest refugee resettlement operation in American history.
“Biden’s massive Afghan resettlement operation started in mid-August after a botched withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan following a 20-year war that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Since then, Biden has resettled more than 52,000 Afghans across American communities in 46 states. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has admitted that vetting procedures for Afghans arriving in the U.S. are minimal. ‘We are not conducting in-person, refugee interviews of 100 percent individuals,’ Mayorkas said during a congressional hearing in November. […]
“Along with those resettled across American communities, the Biden administration continues temporarily housing about 22,500 Afghans at U.S. military bases that they have transformed into refugee camps. Those bases include Camp Atterbury in Indiana; Fort Dix in New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Fort Pickett in Virginia; and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Afghans, while still living on the bases, can begin applying for work permits.
“In total, the Biden administration has brought more than 75,000 Afghans to the U.S. in just a matter of a little more than four months. Most are arriving on humanitarian parole, a visa-less category for anyone claiming to be facing persecution, while few are Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders. […]
“Refugee resettlement costs American taxpayers nearly $9 billion every five years, according to research, and each refugee costs taxpayers about $133,000 over the course of their lifetime. Within five years, an estimated 16 percent of all refugees admitted will need housing assistance paid for by taxpayers.”
As Many As 9,000 American Citizens Were Left Behind in Afghanistan
According to a report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 10, 2022, as many as 9,000 American citizens were left behind in Afghanistan when the U.S. military withdrew its final forces from that country on August 31, 2021. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden administration officials, by contrast, had previously placed the figure at somewhere “in the low hundreds,” and sometimes even as low as approximately 100.
Biden Administration Releases at Least 50 Afghans with “Potentially Significant Security Concerns” Into the U.S.
Not only were most of the Afghan refugees to the U.S. not vetted at all, but on February 17, 2022 it came to light that at least 50 such refugees with “potentially significant security concerns” had been admitted to the United States. Moreover, the Biden administration had no idea where most of those refugees had ended up. The Washington Times claimed to have “looked at a sampling of 31 security risk evacuees identified as of Sept. 17 and found only three could be located,” while “[t]ens of thousands more names remain to be checked.” The Times report suggested that the matter was largely a result of poor planning and organization: “Investigators said a key set of Defense Department databases was off-limits to the vetting team in the early months of the evacuation effort, because of agreements the Pentagon had with other countries. Eventually, officials developed a workaround.” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa observed: “I expressed concern about the administration’s lackluster efforts to screen evacuees flooding from the terrorist safe haven. According to a new report by the Pentagon watchdog, the situation is far worse than we thought…. [T]he report should put a halt to talk of speeding up citizenship or other permanent legal opportunities for the evacuees.”
The Major Ramifications of the Afghanistan Debacle:
1. Lost American Influence in the Region: “The conflict has just entered a new phase with the international troop withdrawal. Instead of an environment we can help manage, the U.S. will be buffeted by the consequences of the predatory behavior of Afghanistan’s neighbors and non-state terror organizations. We now have nuclear-armed states competing for influence in Afghanistan with no NATO presence to mitigate their ferocity. We failed this test in the 1990s and paid for it in 2001.” (Source)
2. Creating Additional Political Divisions and an Environment Where Terror Can Thrive: “The deteriorating security situation will further divide the political factions in Afghanistan and invite regional players to join the conflict, fueling the proxy war and creating space for violent extremism to emerge and thrive. […] Reports highlight that the Taliban still have links to al-Qaeda and ISIS, which further exacerbates the security situation and shows how a Taliban victory would help strengthen transnational terrorist groups. […] As Taliban victories on the battlefield grow, all other factions will ramp up their efforts to build militias and create an opposing force to defeat them. Expect regional powers to arm and supply money to their preferred factions and for the militias to keep switching sides and loyalties …” (Source)
3. Terrorist Groups Will Have Free Rein in Afghanistan:
(a) “Hamas in Gaza are celebrating what is happening here [in Afghanistan]. And they will be re-energized. They will see that their recruits have been boosted…. And they will launch attacks around the world against our countries [U.S. & Britain], as they did, really, when they were being inspired by the Islamic State. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are strong in Afghanistan at the moment…. They will operate freely…. [The Taliban] will allow al Qaeda and the Islamic State to operate freely there. And they can operate more freely than they could before 9/11, because they know there’s no fear of Western intervention now. That’s finished. That’s history…. And so they’ll be even bolder than before. And jihadists from around the world will flock into Afghanistan to train, prepare, and launch attacks against the West. So, the state of the terrorist threat is higher than it was at the height of the Islamic State’s power when they controlled large parts of Syria and of Iraq.” (Source, British Col. Richard Kemp)
(b) “With the Taliban’s resurgence over the past weekend, there is a strong possibility that al-Qaeda will also re-emerge in the country. Al-Qaeda’s offshoot, ISIL, meanwhile, still persists both in Afghanistan and Iraq.” (Source)
4. Affecting Stability in Central Asian Nations: “The insecurity in Afghanistan raises major concerns among its neighbors, particularly as threats of cross-border militancy and drug trafficking reach their borders and affect internal security and stability. The regional actors in Central Asia are especially on edge, as the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan affects certain border areas in the country’s northern provinces. This includes the escalation in armed conflict on the Tajik-Afghan border, which made Moscow step in and offer its support to Tajikistan. For the sake of their own security, these countries don’t want a direct armed conflict or high-level insurgency in Afghanistan.” (Source)
5. Implications for Relations Between Pakistan & India:
(a) “The next and the most important player in Afghan war and peace is Pakistan, which believes the Taliban are set for victory. After 20 years of support, the Pakistanis see this as their own win. […] If the Taliban capture power and the government, Pakistan’s influence will increase significantly.” (Source)
(b) “There is also a general belief among some observers that the U.S. will eventually outsource Afghanistan to Pakistan, opening the door to political engagement and economic incentives between the U.S. and Pakistan. However, such a deal will concern India, which worries about the potential security threats that a Pakistan-supported Taliban could pose. Islamabad and New Delhi strive to impede each other’s political influence in Kabul, and their policy of engagement will take into consideration this common objective. […] If India sees Pakistan control and influence Afghanistan, there will be a new phase of conflict between them inside Afghanistan, which will further aggravate the instability and insecurity and only add more elements of radicalization and violent extremism.” (Source)
6. Increased Influence for China, Russia, Turkey, & Iran:
(a) “Undoubtedly, the US withdrawal will increase the clout of Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran in the Middle East as alternative forces to the US and will surely make many governments in the Middle East reconsider their policies towards the US.” (Source)
(b) “There’s no one really who is celebrating this situation more than Russia and China…. They now will be emboldened themselves…. They now will look at the deterrent that the United States used to present, and they will see that they’ve got pretty much an open field to do almost whatever they like…. The whole world just became vastly more dangerous.” (Source, British Col. Richard Kemp)
(c) “China is ready to capitalize on the U.S.’ botched troop withdrawal as the Taliban seizes power in Afghanistan. Chinese state media is already touting the communist country’s prospective relationship with the Taliban, which has swiftly regained power over Afghanistan. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter account posted a press release on Monday saying it spoke with the Taliban, noting that the Taliban said it would be holding ‘talks aimed at forming an open, inclusive Islamic government in Afghanistan and take responsibility to protect the safety of Afghan citizens [and] foreign missions.'” (Source)
(d) “The indecent haste with which the Biden administration has undertaken its military withdrawal from Afghanistan not only raises the prospect of handing control of the country over to the hardline Islamist Taliban movement. It also presents China with a golden opportunity to extend its influence over this strategically important Central Asian country.” (Source)
(e) “China, which shares a tiny 47-mile-long border with Afghanistan, has long coveted developing closer ties with Kabul, not least because of the large, untapped reserves of mineral wealth that Afghanistan possesses. Rich in copper, lithium, marble, gold and uranium, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has been estimated to exceed in excess of $1 trillion, resources that could easily make the country economically self-sufficient if ever they were to be fully developed. From China’s perspective, access to Afghanistan’s mineral riches would provide it with a ready supply of valuable minerals that are deemed vital to the ruling Communist party’s long-term aim of becoming the world’s pre-eminent economic power.” (Source)
(f) “In the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces this week, Russia sees an opportunity to step up its role as a regional power in its own backyard…. The Kremlin appears to be willing to engage with the Taliban in order to secure its interests. Since the group took over Kabul, Moscow representatives have cautiously reached out for talks to secure its diplomatic compounds in the area. Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov even publicly praised the Taliban on Russian state TV. ‘We are now being guarded by the Taliban, their big unit. They made a good impression on us, adequate guys, well-armed, they stood along the outer perimeter of the embassy so that no one could penetrate us — no terrorist, no crazy person,’ Zhirnov said.”
(g) “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, hinted Russia might recognize the Taliban as a governing force depending on their next moves, which could be a major win for the militants. Russian diplomats have also praised the Taliban over the ‘puppet government’ of Ashraf Ghani, the president who fled Afghanistan and resurfaced in the UAE. Russia only partially evacuated its embassy.” (Source)
7. Discouraging Other Countries from Forming Alliances with an Untrustworthy United States: “Those countries that we had hoped to entice onto our side … will say, ‘Why would we do that? These people are clearly fair-weather friends. We can’t rely on them. We can’t trust them.’ And they will see Russia and China as being the more reliable ally than any country in the West.” (Source, British Col. Richard Kemp)
8. Putting Taiwan in Greater Danger: “The [Chinese] Global Times also published an editorial [on August 16] pressuring Taiwan, pushing the unreliable America narrative and saying the botched withdrawal is a ‘lesson’ for Taiwan’s pro-democracy party. ‘How Washington abandoned the Kabul regime particularly shocked some in Asia, including the island of Taiwan,’ the propaganda arm wrote. ‘Taiwan is the region that relies on the protection of the US the most in Asia, and the island’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have made Taiwan go further and further down this abnormal path.'” (Source)
9. Putting Israel in Increased Danger: “The United States has now left a vacuum in Central Asia, and powerful actors such as Iran, Turkey, Russia and China are already scheming on how to take advantage of the vacuum. This puts Israel in a dangerous position. […] Notably, senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk praised the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. […] Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh recently met with Taliban leaders in Qatar to discuss cooperation. The Taliban representatives congratulated Hamas on its ‘victory’ in ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls,’ the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in which the terrorist organization claimed it came out the winner. In return, Haniyeh congratulated the Taliban on the end of the U.S. ‘occupation’ of Afghanistan in a phone call with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar. […] Iran perceives that the United States is not willing to defend its allies, and the Islamic regime will work to take advantage of the void America is leaving …” (Source)
10. Making America Look Weak in the Eyes of the World: “The Taliban hold the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens—and the future of the Biden administration—in their hands. The collapse of the Ghani government left as many as 15,000 Americans and permanent residents along with an unknown number of other Westerners and foreigners trapped behind Taliban lines. Tens of thousands of Afghans employed by the old government, allied military commands and Western-oriented nonprofits are, with their family members, also desperate to leave. While U.S. forces control the Kabul airport, American citizens—and Afghans with U.S. visas—must run a gantlet of Taliban roadblocks and checkpoints to reach the American perimeter. As for the thousands of Americans, citizens of allied nations and endangered Afghan nationals stranded in other parts of the country, at press time U.S. officials had no plan in place to bring them to safety. Congressional offices report being deluged with pleas for help from Americans behind enemy lines and from veterans seeking help for Afghan contacts and friends. […] While Americans and allied citizens remain on Afghan soil, a major crisis can break out at any time. […] The Taliban, some of whose leaders President Obama released in exchange for captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, understand the politics of hostage taking as well as anybody. But even if national Taliban authorities want to avoid a confrontation, with thousands of unprotected U.S. and other foreign citizens scattered around a chaotic country, authorities in the capital may not be able to control radical factions or ransom-hungry groups of local fighters and criminal gangs.” (Source)
In an interview that aired on August 22, 2021, British Col. Richard Kemp told broadcaster Mark Levin: “President Biden humiliated the United States. He humiliated the United States Army. In my opinion, and I don’t say this lightly, and I’ve never said it about anybody else, any other leader in this position, people have been talking about impeaching President Biden. I don’t believe President Biden should be impeached. He’s the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, who’s just essentially surrendered to the Taliban. He shouldn’t be impeached; he should be court-martialed for betraying the United States of America and the United States Armed Forces.”
Earlier in the same interview, Kemp said, “[W]hat we’re seeing, and what we have seen in the last few days, is — it’s the greatest foreign policy disaster that I have seen in my lifetime of any nature from any Western country. And I would go so far as to say that this is the most disastrous foreign policy event since at least the Second World War for the United States of America. The American forces have not been destroyed nor have they been defeated on the battlefield. But they have been humiliated by their president and the whole of the United States of America, and the Western world has also been humiliated.”
As for President Biden’s remarks from the White House last week about the slap-dash withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kemp said, “I think I would say that I’ve never heard such a disgraceful speech from the president of the United States of America as I heard the other day when he — he said the buck stops with me. But he then went on to explain how the buck actually stopped with everybody else. It wasn’t him to blame, it was everybody else, starting from President Trump. And suggesting for one moment that he was bound or was forced to carry out a policy like this because of President Trump’s policy is simply laughable, a pitiful excuse for what he did and what he is now being humiliated in. Because, you know, he spent much of his early presidency reversing so many other things Trump did. He has been president for seven months. He had a review of the situation in Afghanistan by his staff at the beginning of his presidency. And he was presented with various different options, one of which was the withdrawal he has executed. But there were other options. He didn’t have to take this option. So it’s not President Trump’s fault. It’s not anyone else’s fault. It is the fault of the president of the United States of America.” (Source)
11. Destroying the Credibility of NATO: “I think the consequences of what has just happened and what’s still happening are absolutely devastating for the whole of the Western world. I mentioned earlier that the catastrophic effect on NATO. NATO is a very important military alliance. Many presidents have criticized it for not pulling its weight, the European member states in particular. And they’re right to do so. But President Biden has just completely destroyed its credibility, totally destroyed it single-handed.” (Source, British Col. Richard Kemp)
12. Increasing the Urgency with Which Democrats Will Pursue Their Domestic Agendas in the U.S.: “The Afghanistan withdrawal is just one more issue piled onto the plate of attacks against Biden and Democrats. Even before this, history and redistricting were on Republicans’ side, and Republicans and Democrats are starting to paint a picture of a likely Republican takeover of the House in 2022. That means, as the fog of what happened this week in Afghanistan starts to clear and eyes move again toward the Democrats’ domestic agenda, the multitrillion-dollar spending deals will likely gain more urgency, because they may be the last things Democrats are able to get done before the next presidential election.” (Source)
By November 2021, ISIS Has Established a Presence in Every Province of Afghanistan
On November 17, 2021, United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons warned that the Islamic State’s subsidiary in Afghanistan — known as ISIS Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) — had successfully established a significant presence in every province of that country. As Breitbart.com noted: “The group grew into a significant nuisance for the Taliban during the last days of the Afghan War, as ISIS jihadists attempted to overrun Taliban territory and take over key assets like opium-cultivating poppy fields. The two groups are both, however, Sunni jihadist organizations, and the Taliban has attempted to reason with the Islamic State since coming to power. […] To the extent that the Islamic State is [now] a threat to the population of Afghanistan, is it largely the doing of the Taliban itself. The Pentagon told reporters that it had reason to believe Taliban terrorists had liberated ‘thousands’ of prisoners in former American facilities at Bagram Airbase, a U.S. base before President Joe Biden abruptly withdrew from the site.”
The Resurgence of Al Qaeda, ISIS, & Other Terrorist Groups in Afghanistan by Early 2022
On April 14, 2022, the Council on Foreign Relations issued a report detailing the resurgence of Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan since America’s withdrawal from the country. Some key excerpts:
In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of Taliban rule, the United States is now contending with a resurgent terrorist threat. Both al-Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K) are growing in strength and could pose a significant threat beyond Afghanistan, according [PDF] to recent U.S. government estimates. As a recent UN Security Council assessment concluded [PDF], “terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom in Afghanistan than at any time in recent history.”
A 2020 CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum, A Failed Afghan Peace Deal, warned that a U.S. military withdrawal from the country could result in a collapsed peace process and an overthrow of the Afghan government. It also argued that one of the most significant consequences of a withdrawal would be a resurgence of terrorist groups. These concerns have proved true. This update assesses the evolving terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan and how best to counter it.
Two factors account for the growing terrorist threat in Afghanistan. First, the Taliban government has close links with several terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, and has allowed them to rebuild and reestablish training camps in the country.
Second, Afghanistan is a weak and failing state, a prerequisite for a terrorist sanctuary. The Taliban does not control law and order outside of most cities. In addition, the Taliban government has been unable to establish basic services, and the Afghan economy has shrunk by at least 40 percent since the U.S. withdrawal. The poverty rate could hit 97 percent of the population by the middle of this year. Afghanistan has jumped to the top of the International Rescue Committee’s 2022 Emergency Watchlist as it nears the collapse of virtually all basic services. The combination of a weak state and a collapsing economy gives terrorist groups relative freedom within which to operate and provides a pool of potential recruits. […]
In August 2021, President Joe Biden remarked that the United States’ “only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on [the] American homeland.” Since the U.S. withdrawal, however, the terrorist problem has become steadily worse. According to U.S. intelligence estimates, the number of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan has increased since U.S. forces withdrew in August 2021. As one senior U.S. Department of Defense official concluded [PDF], “the intelligence community [assessed] that both ISIS-K and al-Qaeda have the intent to conduct external operations,” with ISIS-K capable of conducting external attacks in 2022.
Al-Qaeda’s primary goal remains the same: to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate and overthrow the corrupt “apostate” regimes in the Islamic world. Led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda today comprises disparate networks around the globe with uneven centralized control. Its main affiliates are located in the Middle East, including Hurras al-Din in Syria and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen; Africa, including Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin in the Sahel and al-Shabab in Somalia; and South Asia, including al-Qaeda’s global leadership and local affiliate al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). In some countries, such as Yemen, al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened and appears to be on a declining trajectory in terms of popular support and capabilities.
But Afghanistan remains a central strategic node for al-Qaeda, where the group now has a refuge. In addition to al-Zawahiri, several other senior leaders likely reside in Afghanistan, including Saif al-Adel and Amin Muhammad ul-Haq Saam Khan. AQIS is headquartered in Afghanistan and is led by Osama Mehmood and his deputy, Atif Yahya Ghouri. In early 2021, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated [PDF] that al-Qaeda was the weakest it had been in years and included fewer than two hundred members in Afghanistan. But now, al-Qaeda’s total numbers in Afghanistan could have doubled to four hundred fighters [PDF], with most members coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan.
But Afghanistan remains a central strategic node for al-Qaeda, where the group now has a refuge.
Afghanistan is different from any other country where al-Qaeda operates because the group enjoys a sympathetic regime with the Taliban. Al-Qaeda leaders have a particularly close historical relationship with some Taliban leaders—such as Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban interior minister and a U.S.-designated terrorist. Haqqani’s government position is roughly equivalent to the combined jobs of the director of the FBI and secretary of Homeland Security, giving him enormous power in Afghanistan and making him a serious threat to the United States.
With a haven in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda’s threat to U.S. interests is likely to grow. […]
The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s local affiliate, ISIS-K, also presents a growing threat. While ISIS-K is a sworn enemy of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, its goal is similar to that of al-Qaeda: to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate. ISIS-K was severely weakened through mid-2021 because of aggressive U.S. and Afghan counterterrorism operations, Taliban offensives, and internal divisions within ISIS-K. However, the U.S. withdrawal has allowed the group to recover.
ISIS-K’s size has now doubled in less than a year, increasing from two thousand to roughly four thousand operatives [PDF] following the release of several thousand prisoners from Bagram Air Base and Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside of Kabul. Up to half [PDF] of ISIS-K’s operatives are foreign fighters. The group is led by Sanaullah Ghafari (also known as Shahab al-Muhajir), an Afghan national. Other ISIS-K leaders include Sultan Aziz Azam, Maulawi Rajab Salahudin, and Aslam Farooqi. In addition, some former members of the Afghan military and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security, have joined ISIS-K because it is the most active opposition group to the Taliban in Afghanistan. […]
ISIS-K has been more successful than al-Qaeda in inspiring attacks in the United States. In addition, ISIS-K could conduct attacks against U.S. targets in other countries. In Afghanistan, ISIS-K has already demonstrated an ability to conduct high-profile and complex attacks—including an attack at the Kabul airport on August 27, 2021, which killed more than 180 people. According to one estimate, ISIS-K carried out seventy-six attacks on Taliban forces between September 18 and November 30, 2021, a significant jump from 2020, when it conducted only eight attacks during the entire year.
Other Terrorist Groups
In addition to al-Qaeda and ISIS-K, other regional and international terrorist groups now operate in Afghanistan. These include the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Jihad Group, Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Several groups, such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, pose a significant threat to India—a major U.S. partner—and have conducted high-profile attacks in Mumbai, New Delhi, and other Indian cities. More broadly, the Taliban’s victory has inspired jihadis around the world. Groups in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere gleefully celebrated the Taliban’s conquest of Kabul on chat rooms and other online platforms, pledging the revitalization of a global jihad. Al-Qaeda released a statement after the U.S. withdrawal congratulating the Taliban for its victory and calling it a “prelude” to other jihadi victories.