Secret CIA Compound Known As ‘The Salt Pit’ Used To Avoid Taliban Checkpoints And Evacuate Thousands

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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A secret CIA compound outside Kabul reportedly served as a base of operations for evacuations that avoided Taliban checkpoints.

Eagle Base — which until 2004 was home to the notorious prison known as the Salt Pit — was used from Aug. 15-Aug. 28 to assist with evacuation efforts after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, according to a report from The New York Times published Wednesday. (RELATED: Psaki Won’t Say If US, Taliban Have Agreement On Remaining Americans)

According to the NYT report, analysts looked at “satellite imagery, corporate records, active fire data and flight paths” in order to determine how Eagle Base was used in the days before it was demolished and abandoned for good.

“Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters flew evacuees from the compound to Kabul airport to avoid Taliban checkpoints. Flight data shows that three Mi-17s made at least 35 flights there since the Taliban took control on Aug. 15,” Evan Hill, a visual investigator for the NYT, tweeted Wednesday.

Among those evacuated were the elite Afghan troops who had been trained by the CIA at Eagle Base. “Agency-trained Afghan troops from the NDS, who were at high risk of Taliban reprisals, made a deal with the Americans to help with airport security in return for being airlifted out of the country,” Hill added.

Some parts of Eagle Base were demolished months earlier — when President Joe Biden announced a final withdrawal from Afghanistan before Sept. 11 — but other areas remained untouched until just days before the last American evacuation flights left Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

The evacuees were long gone and the final demolitions, according to the report, were “completed by Aug. 28.”

Taliban fighters reportedly entered the empty compound, all but razed to the ground, by Aug. 30 — just hours before the final U.S.-led evacuation flights left Kabul.