U.S. officials gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens and Afghans with visas in a move that they believed would help speed up evacuations, Politico reported Thursday.
The decision reportedly outraged defense officials, with one describing it as “appalling and shocking” and “put[ting] all those Afghans on a kill list.” The Taliban has in some cases beaten Americans attempting to reach Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), and has murdered Afghans who have served as interpreters and aides to the U.S.
SCOOP: U.S. officials gave the Taliban a list of names of U.S. citizens, green card holders & Afghan allies to grant entry into the outer perimeter of the city’s airport, prompting outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials. https://t.co/WHHzStyynk
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) August 26, 2021
Military and diplomatic officials reportedly gave the Taliban lists of people they expected to be allowed evacuation shortly after the U.S. embassy began operating out of HKIA. The embassy moved to HKIA on Aug. 15, shortly after the Taliban took Kabul. The airport was the target of multiple suicide bombings on Thursday, killing at least 12 American troops. (RELATED: ISIS Terror Threat At Kabul Airport Poses Possible Danger To Americans)
“They had to do that because of the security situation the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,” one U.S. official reportedly said.
Officials made the reported decision to provide the Taliban with the list after the group was accused by Human Rights Watch of conducting revenge killings in Kandahar.
Members of Congress learned about the decision during a classified briefing, according to Politico. Following Thursday’s attack, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez tweeted, “We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security.”
Despite the agreements between American and Taliban officials, Taliban fighters have beaten Americans and Afghans attempting to reach HKIA in the streets of Kabul. Outside of Kabul, Taliban fighters have reportedly begun meting out reprisals against Afghans who aided U.S. and NATO military and diplomatic corps. A family member of a journalist who worked for a German media outlet was executed by the Taliban following a door-to-door search shortly after the group entered Kabul.
The Taliban has also reportedly seized devices containing the biometric data of Afghan allies of the U.S. The U.S. uses the devices, known as Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, for the purpose of identifying Afghans, since many do not carry paperwork for identification purposes.
At least 1,000 Americans remain trapped in Afghanistan, according to reported estimates. Democratic and Republican members of Congress have said that they do not believe that U.S. will be able to successfully evacuate all Americans and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa and green card holders.