The official end to a nearly 20-year U.S. military operation in Afghanistan ended this week, and along with it a chaotic effort to evacuate thousands of Americans and allies from the nation.
A subsequent leak from within the Department of Defense indicated that the U.S. government had reached a secret deal with the Taliban to provide security for those Americans attempting to reach the Kabul airport to flee the country in recent days.
Details of the mission
According to the Daily Wire, U.S. special operations troops established a “secret gate” at the airport that was then used to furtively allow access to some Americans without drawing attention from the massive crowds of Afghan citizens outside the main gates.
The secretive agreement with the Taliban was reportedly leaked by anonymous officials within the Pentagon.
Small groups of Americans are said to have been contacted and instructed to meet at certain locations near the airport — including the Ministry of Interior Affairs building.
Once the groups had gathered and their credentials were checked by Taliban militants, the groups were reportedly guided through the airport’s main gates with U.S. troops positioned nearby to keep an eye on the process.
One of the sources cited in the initial report claimed that the operation “worked beautifully,” though other officials seemed to indicate that Taliban escorts were the exception to the rule. Other U.S. citizens and allies reportedly found themselves blocked and even turned away from the airport by Taliban forces manning checkpoints throughout the city.
More secrets emerge
It is unclear whether the recent revelation was tied to the secret visit to Kabul by CIA Director William Burns to meet with the Taliban’s leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar.
That meeting became public knowledge only after Burns left the country. The two men reportedly spoke about Tuesday’s deadline for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal and an ongoing evacuation effort in Kabul.
Although the CIA director possibly sought an extension to the deadline in order to secure safe passage of the remaining Americans, the Taliban made it clear that the U.S. would be crossing a “red line” and would incur “consequences” if troops remained in the country after Tuesday.
Another secret gate was reportedly established at the Kabul airport by troops from the Joint Special Operations Command, who utilized various forms of communication to guide small groups of Americans toward the clandestine location.
Despite the efforts of American service members, it is estimated that hundreds of U.S. citizens have been left behind, giving critics of the Biden administration even more reason to denounce the botched military pullout.