An Afghan evacuee with potential ties to ISIS has reportedly been detained at an airbase hangar in Qatar after fleeing Kabul — while up to 100 other evacuees have been ordered to undergo further security screening.
Security screeners stopped the evacuee at the al-Udeid Air Base in Doha where Americans and Afghans are being taken on military planes from Kabul, a source told Defense One reports.
Up to 100 other evacuees have also been ordered to face more security checks at the airbase after they were flagged as potential matches on intelligence watch lists, another source said.
The officials said there had “been a number of them” that triggered security alerts and at least one “looks like a potential member of ISIS.”
Afghan refugees are being flown to the airbase immediately after evacuating Kabul to be processed by US Customs and Border agents before being cleared to fly to the United States.
Others are being processed at airbases in nearby countries, including Bahrain. The official said they couldn’t rule out that Afghans with possible terrorism links were also getting flagged at those bases.
President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday there was a “growing risk” of a terror attack by ISIS’ Afghan affiliate ISIS-K as he insisted the US was “on pace” to withdraw from Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 deadline.
Another 11,200 people were evacuated on 42 US military flights out of Kabul in the 24 hours ending Wednesday morning, the White House said. About 7,800 people were also evacuated on allied flights.
Since Aug. 14, about 82,300 people have been evacuated on US military and allied flights, according to the White House.
The US is facing increasing pressure to evacuate after the Taliban ordered all foreign evacuation to stop by the Aug. 31 deadline and threatened consequences if US troops weren’t out by then.
Despite agreeing to be out by that date, Biden has asked the Pentagon and State Department to make “contingency plans.”
“It’s a tenuous situation,” Biden said. “We’ve already had some gunfighting break out. We run a serious risk of it breaking down as time goes on.”
US officials, however, are warning that terrorist threats are now jeopardizing the already chaotic Afghanistan evacuations.
The security situation worsened on Tuesday due to threats from ISIS’ Afghan affiliate ISIS-K, sources told Politico.
The terror group is now trying to target aircrafts and the gates at Kabul airport where evacuees are entering.
Airport gates are now been closed off in a bid to mitigate attacks and Americans trying to reach the airport were being told to go to the nearby Ministry of Interior so they could be escorted in by US troops, a source said.
“It worked great on Sunday,” the defense source said. “Monday was a mixed bag and a lot of green card holders didn’t get through. Today, clearly, US citizens are having a hard time getting through.”
Lawmakers and congressional aides were told about the threats by Pentagon officials late Tuesday, according to the sources.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan had already warned on Monday that ISIS posed a “serious threat” to US troops trying to evacuate Americans at the airport.
“What is present in Afghanistan right now to our forces at the airport is a serious threat from ISIS-K that we’re trying to deal with,” he said during a White House press briefing.
President Biden said Sunday the US had made some changes on the ground in relation to evacuations because of the terror threats but declined to give details due to security concerns.