U.S. Embassy tells Americans NOT to go to Kabul airport due to security threats
The U.S. Embassy issued a stern warning to Americans on Saturday not to go to Kabul airport – which is the only way out of the country – because of ‘security threats’ outside its gates a day after President Biden vowed to bring citizens and Afghan allies home.
‘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 Embassy warning says.
The warning was issued less than 24 hours after Biden said there was ‘no indication’ that the Taliban was stopping Americans and their allies from reaching the airport and promised to get everyone home.
It was the first time Biden took questions from White House reporters – on a pre-approved list – in nine days since the chaos started unfolding in Afghanistan.
‘Let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,’ Biden pledged during the speech that he started 50 minutes late where he stumbled over answers.
The president made the promise to ‘mobilize every force necessary’ despite admitting he doesn’t know how many Americans were left and he ‘cannot promise what the final outcome will be’.
He also said allies around the world have not questioned US credibility over the chaotic Kabul evacuation, insisted Al Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan and claimed there has been ‘no indication’ the Taliban has blocked Americans from reaching the airport.
Minutes after Biden said the mission to destroy Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was a success and that he knew of no circumstances where Americans had been unable to reach Kabul airport, he was flatly contradicted by the Pentagon.
Yes, Al Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, said Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby during a briefing, and yes, he was aware of reports of Americans being beaten by the Taliban as they tried to reach safety.
The contradiction will raise further doubt about whether Biden is in control of the White House messaging operation, let alone the chaotic effort to bring Americans home.
Over the last 12 hours, videos started emerging showing the pandemonium and occasional violence outside the airport. Kabul airport is the only way out of the country after the Taliban started seizing the country’s major cities.
Abdul Ghani Baradar – one of the Taliban’s top leaders who negotiated the exit of US troops with former President Donald Trump in Qatar – arrived in Kabul on Saturday.
The world’s eyes are on him as he leads discussions with other Taliban leaders who will construct the framework for how they govern the country over the next week few weeks – a stark difference to the shadowy presence they maintained for years pre-9/11 when they ruled by harsh, draconian Sunni law.
A Taliban official told Reuters that the framework ‘will protect everyone’s rights’ but would not be a democracy by Western standards.
It’s unclear exactly how many U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, but estimates have ranged as high as 15,000.