“Basically, they just put all these Afghans on a list of people to kill,” said one defense official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s just dreadful and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
Asked about POLITICO reporting at a press conference Thursday, President Joe Biden said he was not sure there were such lists, but also did not deny that states sometimes -United gave names to the Taliban.
“There have been occasions when our military have contacted their Taliban military counterparts and said this, for example, this bus comes in with X number of people on board, made up of the following group of people. We want you to leave this bus or that group through, ”he said.“ So, yes, there have been occasions like that. To my knowledge, in those cases, most of it happened and they were let go.
“I cannot tell you for sure that there was indeed a list of names,” he added. “There may have been. But I don’t know of any circumstances. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, that here are the names of 12 people, they are coming, let them through. It could very well have been. to arrive.”
A spokesperson for US Central Command declined to comment.
The issue of the list was raised during a classified briefing on Capitol Hill this week, which became contentious after senior officials in the Biden administration defended their close coordination with the Taliban. Biden officials claimed it was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and to prevent a shooting war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of American soldiers stationed at the airport.
After the fall of Kabul, in the early days of the evacuation, the joint U.S. military and diplomatic coordination team at the airport provided the Taliban with a list of people the U.S. intended to evacuate. These names included Afghans who served alongside the United States in the 20 Years War and applied for special immigrant visas for America. US citizens, dual nationals, and lawful permanent residents were also listed.
“They had to do it because of the security situation created by the White House by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,” said a US official.
But after thousands of visa applicants arrived at the airport, exceeding the ability of the United States to process them, the State Department changed course – asking applicants not to come to the airport and their asking instead to wait until you are cleared to enter. From that point on, the list provided to the Taliban no longer included these Afghan names.
As of August 25, only holders of U.S. passports and green cards were accepted as eligible for evacuation, the defense official said.
Yet the fact that US officials handed over a list of Afghan allies and US citizens and residents shows how much they have outsourced security of the airport’s outer perimeter to the Taliban. The Taliban went door-to-door looking for Afghan interpreters and others who assisted US and Western forces.
In written and verbal communications, General Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, and Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, head of US forces on the ground in Afghanistan, called the Taliban “our Afghan partners”, according to two defenders. . officials.
The Biden administration coordinated the evacuation effort and airport security with the Taliban, who run checkpoints outside the outer perimeter of the airport. Officials are “in daily communication” with Taliban commanders about who to let in, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters this week.
The news comes just hours after two Islamic State terror attacks rocked the area just outside the airport, killing at least four US Marines and injuring dozens more. A number of Afghans were also killed in the shelling.
After the attacks, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (DN.J.) appeared to criticize the Biden administration’s coordination strategy with the Taliban, writing in a statement: “Pending further details, one thing is clear. : We cannot trust the Taliban for the safety of Americans.