A wanted Taliban terrorist is reportedly responsible for passport operations in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports.
Afghanistan veteran founder of No One Left Behind Matt Zeller told AP he believes the new Taliban government has left a terrorist named Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a FBI $5 million bounty on his head for attacks and kidnappings, in “charge of granting passports” and standing between Americans and green card holders and their freedom.
The AP also reports others remain stranded in the country 10 days since President Joe Biden concluded his deadly evacuation that left 13 U.S. troops dead and billions of dollars worth of equipment in the hands of the Taliban.
“A more than weeklong standoff over charter planes at the airport… has left hundreds of people — mostly Afghans, but some with American passports and green cards — stranded, waiting for Taliban permission to leave,” the AP reported about those still stranded at Mazar-e-Sharif airport.
“Afghans and their American supporters say the Taliban are blocking all passengers in Mazar-e-Sharif from boarding the waiting charter flights, including those with proper travel papers,” the AP continued.
Zeller said the best chance for the trapped Americans to escape the country was before Biden fully withdrew U.S. troops. “For all intents and purposes, these people’s chances of escaping the Taliban ended the day we left them behind.”
A man whose name was obscured by the AP for safety reasons confised he is worried about his safety and has no idea what the “issue is” that is preventing his evacuation.
“I’m frightened I will be left behind,” said the man. “I don’t know what the issue is — is it a political issue, or they don’t care about us?”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday praised the Biden administration’s work in Afghanistan as “extraordinary” while claiming only 100 Americans remain stranded in the country after rescuing 6,000.
But Blinken’s estimates do not square with those on the ground. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told AP last week “the number of U.S. citizens still there and wanting to leave is closer to 500.” When the count includes the members of family, the Issa said the overall “number of people could be as high as 1,000.”
The White House originally estimated 11,000 Americans were in the country at the time Afghanistan collapsed, leaving 5,000 unaccounted. However, Biden stated in his congratulatory evacuation speech that only ten percent were left trapped in the country.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø