Official warns about potential threats from Islamic State
The U.S. embassy in Kabul Saturday urged American citizens in Afghanistan to stay away from the capital’s airport because of “potential security threats.”
The potential threats could come from the Islamic State terrorist group, according to a senior U.S. official. For that reason, the U.S. military is working on determining safe routes to get Americans to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Officials, who briefed President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and others on the national security team Saturday at the White House situation room, didn’t reveal more specific details about the threats in national media reports. But they told The Associated Press the potential threats were significant.
The U.S. embassy said no American should go to the airport unless instructed to do so by a representative of the U.S. government.
“We continue to closely monitor events and carefully assess conditions in Afghanistan,” the State Department wrote on its website, state.gov, “The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas remain a top priority.”
At the same time, Pentagon officials said evacuees are continuing to be processed at the Kabul airport.
But there are complications.
One is that the gates to the Kabul airport were closed Saturday because of a backup at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, according to a Defense Department official who declined to be identified in national media reports. The Qatar base, which is the first destination for most U.S. military planes flying from Kabul, is struggling to handle the high number of evacuees who are there now.
About 5,800 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Kabul, and the 82nd Airborne is providing runway security.
Meanwhile, Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar reportedly arrived in Afghanistan Saturday to talk to others in the Taliban about establishing the new government.
According to national media reports, the Taliban have secured U.S. military gear that includes 40 aircraft and 2,000 armored vehicles.
And Afghan media, which became accustomed to the nation’s freedom of the press in the 21st century, is reportedly self-censoring itself to avoid reprisals from the Taliban. To remain safe, female journalists are avoiding newsrooms and working at home, according to media reports.
The information in this story is based on a variety of national media reports and the State Department website, state.gov.