Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Sunday, Sept. 5, painted a disturbing picture for Americans in Afghanistan—the Taliban will not let them leave without certain conditions being met.
McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, revealed up to six airplanes carrying U.S. citizens and Afghan evacuees at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan were being held back by the Taliban.
“The Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul told Fox News.
“In fact we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
According to McCaul, the new government of Afghanistan had been stopping flights from being approved by the Department of State for days, and their intentions were not good.
“We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange,” McCaul alleged. “This is really, Chris [Chris Wallace host of Fox News Sunday], turning into a hostage situation where they’re not gonna allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
CBS News was able to confirm that there were at least two planes that had been put on hold for six days. The planes were supposed to carry as many as 1200 people, including 19 Americans and two permanent residents.
The source added further that some planes were not loaded because the passengers were stopped short from entering the airport.
“The U.S. airfield in Qatar that has been standing by, ready to receive, is now beginning to pack up,” Marina LeGree, the group’s executive director, told CBS News.
“We hope visibility will add pressure to force a solution,” LeGree added. “Six days of talks are not encouraging.”
Answering the issues with the Taliban’s move, the State Department had to confirm that it did not have personnel on the ground or control of the airspace to have full details of the postponed flights but promised that it “will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan,” per The Hill.
“As with all Taliban commitments, we are focused on deeds not words, but we remind the Taliban that the entire international community is focused on whether they live up to their commitments,” the department said.
As the U.S. stuck to its August 31 deadline and having the last troops departed Kabul airport, among those still struggling to apply for the documents out of the country, were still eligible ones left stranded.
While Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week expected those people could only make up to 100 or 200 individuals, McCaul on Sunday estimated that amount could climb up to hundreds, The Hill noted.