The commander of U.S. Central Command said Thursday he did not know if the Taliban — whose members the U.S. was relying on to screen individuals getting to the airport — let Islamic State suicide bombers get through and conduct at least two bombings that have so far killed 12 Marines and injured 15 more.
“Clearly if they were able to get up to the Marines…at the entry point of the base,there’s a failure somewhere,” said Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie at a press briefing on Thursday.
He added of the Taliban: “Some of those guys are scrupulously good, some of them are not. I just don’t know the answer to that question. But you can be assured we’re going to continue to take a look at it and make sure all of our practices [are] better going forward.”
The Biden administration had relied on the Taliban to screen individuals getting through checkpoints they set up around the airport.
The move put the Taliban in charge of deciding who could get through to evacuate, including Americans, U.S. green card holders, and Afghan civilians attempting to evacuate.
The arrangement was unusual, given that up until August 14, the U.S. had been fighting the Taliban for nearly 20 years.
President Joe Biden set a U.S. military withdrawal date of August 31. However, the Taliban managed to take the capital of Kabul by August 14 — sooner than the Biden administration had expected.
The Biden administration was then forced to surge 6,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to evacuate U.S. Embassy staff, American citizens, and Afghans desperate to get out.
The administration has said it is not time to look at what went wrong with the withdrawal, and that it is focused on the evacuation mission. Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted, however, that there were still an estimated 1,500 Americans in Afghanistan.