A potentially deadly blunder by President Joe Biden’s administration effectively handed the Taliban a “kill list” to target Afghans who aided the US, according to a report Thursday — and admitted it may have happened when asked later at a White House briefing.
Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, US officials there gave the Islamic extremist group the names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies so they could be allowed to enter the Taliban-controlled perimeter around the Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to Politico.
The decision was reportedly made despite the Taliban’s notorious reputation for brutally executing Afghans who helped the US military and other Western forces during the war and occupation that followed the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” a US defense official told Politico. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
During a news conference about Thursday’s deadly terror attack at the Kabul airport, Biden acknowledged unspecified “occasions” on which the US military had contacted the Taliban to say, “for example, this bus is coming through with ‘X’ number of people on it, made up of the following people.”
“And to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred. They’ve been let through,” he said.
“But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. There may have been, but I know of no circumstance.”
Biden added: “That doesn’t mean it’s not — it didn’t exist. That, ‘Here’s the names of 12 people. They’re coming. Let them through.’ It could very well have happened.”
The shocking revelation came just days after it was revealed that Taliban death squads have been going “door-to-door” to hunt down suspected Afghan “collaborators,” with tens of thousands of American allies potentially at risk.
The White House’s major miscalculation surfaced during a classified, Capitol Hill briefing earlier this week, Politico said.
The closed-door meeting reportedly grew heated when top administration officials tried to defend coordinating with the Taliban, claiming it was the best way to prevent a shooting war between US troops and Taliban fighters from breaking out at the airport.
The Biden administration has been relying on the Taliban to provide security outside the airport, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, and Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, head of US forces on the ground in Afghanistan, have referred to the Taliban in both written and verbal communications as “our Afghan partners,” two defense officials told Politico.
Following the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, the joint US military and diplomatic team at the airport began giving the Taliban lists of people the US was seeking to evacuate, Politico said.
“They had to do that because of the security situation the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,” one US official said.
But after thousands of visa applicants started arriving at the airport, the State Department reportedly told those people to stay away until they were cleared for entry and the lists given to the Taliban no longer included the names of any Afghans.
As of Wednesday, only people with US passports and green cards were being admitted to the airport and processed for evacuation, the defense official told Politico.
A spokesperson for US Central Command declined to comment, Politico said.