Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that the Taliban are not letting flights ready to evacuate American civilians and allies leave Afghanistan and are “holding them hostage for demands.”
The Taliban is preventing Americans and allies from leaving the country on six charter planes at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan and making demands of the U.S., McCaul told Fox News on Sunday.
“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 said.
“The Taliban wants something in exchange, this is really … turning into a hostage situation where they are not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America,” he added.
When “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked how many Americans have been evacuated out of Afghanistan since the withdrawal deadline on Aug. 31, McCaul said, “I understand, zero.”
The flights have permission to land in Doha “if and when the Taliban agrees to takeoff,” according to an email from the State Department to members of Congress, CBS News reported, quoting sources as saying that the planes are not currently loaded and the passengers are being held nearby.
Ascend, a group committed to developing young women as leaders through athletics, was quoted as saying that they’ve had two flights waiting for six days to take between 600 and 1,200 people — including 19 American citizens and two permanent residents.
Following the drawing down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country, eventually taking the capital Kabul last month and forcing the government to flee. In response to the unexpected speed at which the terrorist group retook the nation, tens of thousands of Americans, Afghan allies, and others desperately tried to leave the country.