US Reporter Says Her WaPo Team Was Rescued by UK Troops From Kabul as US Couldn't 'Ensure Safety'
14:39 GMT 23.08.2021 (Updated: 06:43 GMT 29.08.2021)
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that his administration would do “whatever needs to be done” to help evacuate American citizens from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s* capture of power on 15 August. Critics say he is not trying enough.
A Washington Post reporter revealed that she and her Afghan colleagues were able to safely escape Afghanistan thanks to British troops, as US forces have been failing to go beyond the boundaries of Kabul Airport to assist with evacuation efforts.
In a new article that followed her escape from the country, American journalist Susannah George said that her team was safely transported to the airport in armoured cars, as the UK blocked off the road from the Taliban to ensure a safe passage.
“We weren’t part of their [British] evacuation, and the officer said they needed sign-off from the U.S. Embassy. But after a few phone calls, they agreed to wave Tassal [her Afghan colleague], another Washington Post employee and their families through the Taliban checkpoint”, George wrote.
Reaching Kabul's Hamid Karzai Airport proved to be “the most difficult” for her team and their families amid “crumbling” security, the senior reporter said.
“Our chances of making it through the gate safely and then onto the plane were slim”, George wrote.
The group eventually managed to get through the checkpoint thanks to the British military and escape to Qatar in a US military plane for future relocation. The reporter added that the family of her lucky Afghan colleague Tassal later flew to the US.
© REUTERS / UK MOD Crown copyright 2021Passengers sit inside a Royal Air Force C-17 following evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan, in this photo taken at undisclosed location and released on August 22, 2021
Passengers sit inside a Royal Air Force C-17 following evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan, in this photo taken at undisclosed location and released on August 22, 2021
© REUTERS / UK MOD Crown copyright 2021
‘No System’ to Get People Inside the Airport
On Friday, just few days after George escaped Afghanistan, Joe Biden signalled that the US “will do whatever” is necessary to help American citizens get to Kabul's Hamid Karzai Airport. The president also underlined that the US was “committed” to getting out Afghan allies who worked closely with the American military mission in the country as well as their families, along with journalists; however, some of his pledges have been highly scrutinised.
Biden boasted that the US successfully evacuated 204 employees of various media outlets in Afghanistan last week, including those from The Washington Post.
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce CenetaPresident Joe Biden answers questions from members of the media as he speaks about the evacuation of American citizens, their families, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden answers questions from members of the media as he speaks about the evacuation of American citizens, their families, SIV applicants and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Washington.
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta
As of Friday, the president said that his administration had “no indication” that Americans citizens “haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport”.
“We’ve made an agreement with the — with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are — carrying an American passport — are trying to get through to the airport”, Biden argued.
But George seems to have rebutted the president’s confident comments. She complained in her article that despite the rising number of evacuation flights from Afghanistan, there was just “no system to get people safely inside the airport”.
In a follow-up interview with MSNBC, the journalist reiterated this thought:
“There are statements, you know, from the United States Embassy, encouraging people to come to the airport but then also saying, you know, ‘we cannot ensure your safety’ as you go to the airport. It’s really difficult to look at both of these statements together because the danger of going to the airport is so incredibly high at the moment”, the journalist said.
While British, French, and German forces have sent their missions into the country to help get their citizens and embassy workers out, the US is being criticised for failing to actually expand the security perimeter outside Kabul Airport.
Biden says the reason for their reluctance to go further is to avoid “an awful lot of unintended consequences”.
To add to the scrutiny around American evacuation efforts, CNN reported on Monday, citing sources, that Washington was now changing its policy. From Monday on, only Americans, citizens of NATO countries, and green card holders will be allowed into the airport, the report said.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.