On Monday, Americans continuing to evacuate people out of Afghanistan using private planes claimed to Fox News that the State Department is delaying those efforts. Three individuals involved in organizing the flights stated that the State Department’s inaction is endangering the lives of those who remain in the country.
Some of those who are stuck are reportedly being forced to wait at the tarmac by the Taliban. If true, this runs directly contrary to the Taliban’s claim that people may freely depart from the airport once it is operating again.
Mike McCaul, a senior Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that there are in fact six airplanes stuck at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport. He attributed this to the fact that the U.S. has not told the Taliban to give those planes clearance to depart.
McCaul also stated that the Taliban were holding passengers “hostage for demands,” but multiple Reuters sources disputed that claim.
Newly released satellite images show six commercial airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan that are not being allowed to depart by the Taliban. American citizens and Afghan interpreters are reportedly waiting to board the flights. 📸: @Maxar pic.twitter.com/Ov7kB3z5VP
— Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) September 5, 2021
“Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f—ing phone call.” – A private charterer in Afghanistan
Each of the individuals interviewed expressed concern over the current situation, although only one spoke without the condition of anonymity.
Rick Clay, the founder of private rescue group “Plan B,” was the only to speak with Fox News with his identity made explicit.
According to Fox, Clay told them that the State Department “is not allowing any private charters carrying refugees [to] land anywhere” in bordering countries. Clay also stated that the reasons provided by the State Department for why this is happening widely vary. The other two organizers apparently verified Clay’s account of the situation.
“This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives. Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f—ing phone call.” one of the unnamed organizers told Fox. “If one life is lost as a result of this, the blood is on the White House’s hands. The blood is on their hands.”
“It is not the Taliban that is holding this up–as much as it sickens me to say that–it is the United States government,” the organizer concluded.
After this, the person apparently suggested that the State Department is embarrassed that private charters are rescuing stranded Americans, rather than any government entity.
However, despite the organizer’s claims, the State Department feels differently about the situation.
In a briefing last Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price both denied that the Biden administration is actively preventing planes from exiting Afghanistan.
Despite the current trouble getting the State Department to approve flights out of the country, one family has been successfully evacuated. An American citizen named Mariam, and her three children, were all able to exit the country on Monday with the help of a team of veterans.
Mariam and her family were originally supposed to leave by boarding one of Plan B’s private charters. That plan fell through due to the fact that the planes were never cleared to take off from Mazar-i-Sharif.
Cory Mills, a veteran and congressional candidate involved with Mariam’s evacuation said that the State Department’s claims of assisting in the effort were vastly overstated.
Mills told Fox, “This is an attempt to save face by the administration for the Americans they left behind. This is a woman with three children from age 15 all the way down to two-years-old. And they did nothing to try to expedite this… But at the very last minute you have these ‘senior officials’ at the State Department trying to claim credit for this like ‘oh yeah look what we’ve done.”
After 2 weeks & multiple life threatening attempts, I am overjoyed to share that 4 U.S. citizens from #TX13 were part of the first successful ground evacuation since the U.S. left Kabul. Thank you to Cory Mills & the other patriots on his team for saving these BRAVE Americans! pic.twitter.com/1Tv9KRUgcE
— Ronny Jackson (@RepRonnyJackson) September 6, 2021
Without the State Department actively assisting in these efforts by giving explicit approval for every American trying to leave Afghanistan, individuals like Mariam will be trapped without a choice.
Currently the most extreme estimates place a couple hundred Americans in Afghanistan, while the White House claims that the number is “closer to 100.”