Texas Rep. Michael McCaul expressed concerns over the situation Afghan partners still to be evacuated face amid a looming deadline to withdraw all forces from Kabul’s airport.
McCaul, the highest-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a bipartisan press conference on Wednesday, the United States has a “moral obligation” to ensure the evacuation of Afghan interpreters and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants as he highlighted the threats these people are likely facing by the Taliban terrorist group.
“The Taliban will let American citizens in, but if they see Afghan interpreters that have their SIV applications, sometimes they’re turned away,” McCaul said. “Sometimes, more grimly, they are returned to their homes, where they behead their family and then behead them.”
“Our Afghan partners and interpreters who served with our special forces put their life on the line—we have a moral obligation to save them,” the lawmaker said.
Last week, an Afghani man who worked as a translator for the U.S. military and also risked his own life to save American troops, mentioned similar threats of beheadings during an interview on CBS, explaining he is concerned that Taliban terrorists will kill him after failing to flee the beleaguered country.
The U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital also issued a statement on Wednesday, advising Americans in the country to avoid traveling to Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing security threats.
“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the embassy said in a security alert.
McCaul also mentioned that there is a “major terror threat” at Kabul’s airport, saying the conditions there are very severe and authorities have received “very credible reporting” of a “severe” terrorist threat from the ISIS terrorist group.
The Pentagon confirmed a blast at the airport on Thursday, with no immediate word on casualties. Suspicion for the attack targeting the crowds would likely fall on ISIS as officials obtained threats before explosions erupted that the airport would be attacked by the terrorist group, though nothing has been confirmed yet.
“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can,” U.S. Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby said in a social media post.
A Taliban official told Reuters that the initial explosion came from a suspected suicide bomb and left at least 13 dead, including children.