It was during President Joe Biden’s second speech to the nation about his Afghanistan blunder that he insisted Americans were having no trouble passing through Taliban checkpoints on the way to the airport in Kabul.
That statement was quickly proven to be false, however, as Politico reported that just minutes later, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed during a phone call with House lawmakers that Americans have, in fact, been “beaten” and harassed by Taliban forces as they attempted to get to Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuation.
During the call with lawmakers, Austin admitted that Americans were not having an easy time getting to the airport to escape the Taliban-controlled country.
“We’re also aware that some people, including Americans, have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban,” Austin said, according to sources familiar with the call who spoke with Politico. “This is unacceptable and [we] made it clear to the designated Taliban leader.”
However, Austin declined to comment on whether or not U.S. combat forces on the ground would be deployed to assist Americans who are experiencing trouble getting past multiple Taliban checkpoints.
Austin added: “With the exception of those cases, we continue to see Americans and appropriately credentialed Afghans continue to move through.”
But even that notion would come to an abrupt end, as on Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a dire warning to Americans still trapped in the country, advising them to “avoid” making their way to the airport due to emerging threats, which would later be revealed to be threats from the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
“The threat is real”
According to The Wall Street Journal, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that the ISIS threat against Americans both outside and inside of the airport is one of great concern.
“The threat is real. It is acute. It is persistent. And it is something we are focused on with every tool in our arsenal,” Sullivan said during a CNN interview Sunday.
Insisting that U.S. military forces are prepared to react to an ISIS attack situation, Sullivan added: “We will do everything that we can for as long as we’re on the ground to keep that from happening. We are taking it absolutely deadly seriously.”
The latest threats haven’t done much to ensure Americans who want to flee the country, especially those furthest away from the airport, as they face multiple — sometimes dozens — of Taliban checkpoints if they have any hope of getting to the airport for evacuation.
Taliban leaders have reportedly told the Biden administration that it has until Aug. 31 to evacuate everyone who wants to leave. What happens after that date is anyone’s guess, but for those who will inevitably still be stuck there, it could prove to be a total nightmare, to say the least.