Recent reports reveal that U.S. Special Operations forces conducted clandestine missions to move stranded U.S. citizens and Afghan allies to the Kabul airport as the evacuation deadline loomed.
CNN reported on Tuesday these missions involved a “secret” gate at the airport, special call centers to guide the “clusters of Americans” to pre-set “muster points” and Taliban escorts. The effort saved over 3,200 people.
The news outlet relied on information it gleaned from numerous unnamed individuals — American off-site officials (specifically two in the U.S. Defense Department), people who had “attempted passage” and a network of stateside contacts, including family members and former military and intelligence officials — to compile its report.
The officials, speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the U.S. military negotiated coordination with Taliban militants to escort the groups “several times a day.”
From their call centers, Special Forces operatives communicated with the Americans and S.I.V. Afghans, guiding them to the pre-arranged muster points. There Taliban militants would check credentials before escorting them the short distance through the throngs at the gate to the “secret” entrance.
U.S. troops stood by with eyes on the Americans as they approached with their Taliban escorts.
“It worked, it worked beautifully,” one of the anonymous officials told CNN.
But not perfectly.
CNN noted several instances where the Taliban turned away Americans with passports and green cards at the rendezvous points. Sometimes groups were denied access on multiple attempts and had to gain entry through alternate routes.
The report described one particularly harrowing night when armed Taliban militants confiscated passports, green cards and cell phones from a group of about 100 people at a muster point. They huddled together for several hours before their documents were returned, and they could proceed to the airport.
The U.S. military did not disclose its secret coordination with the Taliban previously because of its sensitive nature.
“The US was concerned about Taliban reaction to any publicity, as well as the threat of attacks from ISIS-K if its operatives had realized Americans were being escorted in groups, the officials said,” CNN reported.
Throughout the evacuation effort, the Biden administration repeatedly insisted that the Taliban was committed to ensuring “safe passage” to any Americans and others who wished to leave.
During a White House news conference midway through the evacuation debacle, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “We are engaging with the Taliban, consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now — on what’s happening at the airport; on how we need to ensure that there is facilitated passage to the airport for American citizens, SIVs, third-country nationals, and so forth.”
Jake Sullivan to CNN’s @Phil_Mattingly on needing the Taliban’s permission to extend the Aug. 31 deadline: “We are engaging with the Taliban, consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now.” pic.twitter.com/seW3b1f1h3
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 23, 2021
Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie first publicly revealed the involvement of Special Operations forces at a Monday news conference that he held after the evacuation operation was over.
“U.S. Special Operations Forces reached out to help break in — bring in more than 1,064 American citizens and 2017 S.I.V.s, or Afghans at risk, and 127 third-country nationals, all via phone calls, vectors and escorting,” McKenzie said.
When asked at the news conference what U.S. coordination with the Taliban will look like moving forward, Gen. McKenzie said, “I can’t foresee the way future coordination between us would go. I would leave that for some future date. I will simply say that they wanted us out; we wanted to get out with our people and with our friends and partners. And so for that short period of time, our issues — our view of the world was congruent. It was the same.”
The Western Journal could not independently verify whether Knauss was involved with the Taliban collaboration to shuttle stranded Americans and S.I.V. Afghans to the airport.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.