At least 500 Americans are reportedly stranded in Afghanistan, contradicting President Joe Biden’s estimate of between 100 and 200, according to the Associated Press (AP) on Sunday.
Among those who believe Biden has miscalculated how many Americans remain trapped behind enemy lines includes Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who told the AP, “the number of U.S. citizens still there and wanting to leave is closer to 500.” And if the family members of those trapped Americans are included, Issa believes the overall “number of people could be as high as 1,000.”
“Unless we continue and get the rest of our American citizens, and all those otherwise eligible out, we won’t have done our job,” Issa explained.
Rescue operation Allied Airlift 21’s leader Mike Jason told the AP he has spoken to 78 green card holders still in the country, “but that the figure does not capture the scale of the problem. Add their spouses and children to the tally, he said, and the number rises to nearly 400.”
Jason also believes there are more trapped Americans than the Biden administration is letting on because Biden’s estimates do not “include their family members who may be green card holders.” For instance, Jason’s operation has identified 45 Americans in Afghanistan but has evidence that more than 250 family members are trapped with them.
An informal rescue operation network named Digital Dunkirk told the AP that many Americans who have contacted the rescue group have not registered with the U.S. embassy, further throwing off Biden’s estimates of 100 to 200 Americans trapped.
“Those names are starting to trickle out now,” said Alex Plitsas of Digital Dunkirk. “I expect that number to rise significantly,” he explained about the Americans Biden had not calculated.
The true number of Americans stranded behind enemy lines is unknown. The White House’s original number of Americans within Afghanistan before the country collapsed was about 11,000.
But the Biden administration said after the deadly evacuation finished, only 6,000 Americans had been flown out of the country, potentially leaving about 5,000. Yet Biden told the world after the deadly evacuation in a prepared speech a few days later that his administration left ten percent of Americans in the country.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø