A Burka-clad CNN reporter in Kabul said the Taliban ‘seem friendly’ while standing in front of a group of jihadists chanting ‘death to America’ and ordering her to move because she’s a woman.
Just a few days ago, Clarissa Ward gave her report with her hair and neck uncovered, but on Monday, she wore a black shawl wrapped tightly around her head as per the Islamists’ demands.
Ward was surrounded by fighters after the Afghan capital fell to the terrorists who the U.S. and Nato fought for two decades after the 9/11 attacks.
‘They’re just chanting death to America, but they seem friendly at the same time,’ she said. ‘It’s utterly bizarre.’
Senator Ted Cruz mocked the broadcast, tweeting: ‘Is there an enemy of America for whom CNN WON’T cheerlead? (In mandatory burkas, no less).’
The Republican was roundly criticised, particularly by Ward’s colleagues, who commended her exceptional bravery in reporting under such hostile conditions.
Former New York Times Opinion Editor Bari Weiss called Cruz’s tweet an ‘appalling statement about a reporter showing real courage. Of a piece with so many glib takes trying to turn the Afghanistan catastrophe into parochial culture war issue.
‘This is about the decline of American power, influence and will,’ she wrote. ‘Not press bias.’
Ward was seen wearing a burka in the news segment, as Taliban fighters told her to step aside because she is a woman
Just days ago, Clarissa Ward gave her report with her hair and neck uncovered
On Monday, Senator Ted Cruz criticized CNN’s reporting from Kabul, where a female reporter said: ‘They’re just chanting death to America, but they seem friendly at the same time’
Bari Weiss later retweeted his comment saying the reporter, Clarissa Ward, was ‘showing real courage’ in her reporting ;of a piece with so many glib takes trying to turn the Afghanistan catastrophe into parochial culture war issues’
Clarissa Ward attends the launch of The Art of Empowerment hosted by UN Women at Brown’s in Mayfair, London, in November 2018
In a longer version of Ward’s segment in Kabul, which has been overrun with Taliban forces since the president fled, she said: ‘As soon as we leave our compound, it’s clear who is now in charge.
‘Taliban fighters have flooded the Capitol, smiling and victorious – they took the city of 6 million people in a matter of hours.’
She added that people were coming up to them to pose for photos chanting ‘death to America,’ with some saying they support the insurrection as United States forces had been in the country for ‘too long.’
Meanwhile, as Ward was trying to do her job, she said: ‘They just told me to stand to the side because I’m a woman.’
Just one day before, Alexi Kudej pointed out on Twitter, she was reporting from the city without a head covering.
Just the day before, Alexi Kudej pointed out on Twitter, Ward was not wearing a head covering in the city
Her change in style comes after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule.
It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep that ended in Kabul as government forces trained for years and equipped by Britain, the United States and other Western nations at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.
As the militants declared victory and claimed peace had been brought to the country, at least eight people were killed at Kabul Airport. Two armed men were shot by US forces, three were crushed to death under the wheels of a departing American military plane, and three who managed to cling on to a plane fell to their deaths afterwards.
After police and other government forces gave up their posts in Kabul on Sunday, Taliban fighters took over checkpoints across the city and entered the presidential palace and the Afghan parliament building.
Videos from the city on Monday showed Taliban fighters driving armored vehicles and pickup trucks through the streets, with armed militiamen standing on the rear – some with mounted heavy machine guns.
Militants with rifles slung over their shoulders were also seen walking Monday through the streets of the Green Zone, the formerly heavily fortified district that houses most embassies and international organizations – the staff from which that are in the process of being evacuated at the city’s airport.
The Taliban sought to reassure the international community that Afghans should not fear them, and they will not take revenge against those who supported the US-backed alliance.
In a message posted to social media, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar called on his fighters to remain disciplined after taking control of the city. ‘Now it’s time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life,’ he said.
Taliban fighters are seen on the back of a vehicle patrolling Kabul on Monday
The group had managed to take control of the city, the nation’s capitol, in just a matter of hours
The Taliban’s capture of the capital had occurred, as in many other cities, without the bloodshed that many had feared, but there were desperate scenes at Kabul’s airport as people tried to board the few flights available.
People were pictured scaling the barbed wire-lined walls around the airport’s perimeter as people frantically tried to board flights and escape the city now under the militant’s control. On the tarmac, people were seen trying to climb a moving US military evacuation plane, while others were shown sitting on top of a commercial jet.
One witness said he had seen the bodies of five people being taken to a vehicle. Another witness said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede.
‘We are afraid to live in this city,’ a 25-year-old ex-soldier said as he stood among huge crowds on the tarmac. ‘Since I served in the army, the Taliban would definitely target me.
U.S. troops, who are in charge of the airport, earlier fired in the air to scatter the crowd, a U.S. official said, but officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths.
Meanwhile, refugees have been massing at the borders as people desperately try to flee Afghanistan before the Taliban’s brutal rules are implemented, with pictures from the country’s border with Pakistan showing hundreds of people lining up in an attempt to leave.
‘It will be years before the stain of 2021 can be erased’: Ex-National Security Adviser HR McMaster blasts Joe Biden over Afghanistan withdrawal and warns ‘there is much more suffering and violence ahead’
Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has slammed President Joe Biden over the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan
‘We heard, again and again, that there was no military solution to the war in Afghanistan. But the Taliban clearly had one in mind,’ McMaster wrote in a guest essay for
‘There is much more suffering and violence ahead. It will be years before the stain of 2021 can be effaced,’ continued McMaster, a retired Army general and former top official in the Trump administration.
‘We hear that the consequences of this lost war can be managed. But self-defeat based in incompetence and lack of will should be cause for grave concern,’ he wrote.
McMaster’s scathing assessment came as the Taliban took complete control of Kabul, with all U.S. diplomatic staff and NATO allies sheltering at Hamid Karzai International Airport and awaiting airlift to safety.
McMaster’s scathing assessment came as the Taliban took complete control of Kabul. Above, Taliban fighters stand beside the belongings of Afghan security soldiers in Kabul on Monday
The complete collapse of Kabul has drawn comparisons to the Fall of Saigon and Biden has been furiously criticized over how the withdrawal was conducted
The shocking scenes from Kabul are reminiscent of the Fall of Saigon in 1975, a disastrous few days where US Air Force helicopters flew thousands of Americans and Vietnamese civilians out of the city as the war there ended in a humiliating defeat for America.
Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, joined in the criticism in an essay for the newsletter of Weiss, a former New York Times opinion editor.
‘There are many barbaric regimes in the world. It is not America’s duty to police them. Afghanistan, however, is different,’ Haley argued.
‘Twenty years ago, the terrorists bred in that country came for us. Now they are getting what they wanted,’ she wrote.
‘Just a month ago, President Biden assured us it was ‘highly unlikely’ this would happen. America is now begging the Taliban to let us remove our embassy personnel. It’s a humiliating sight,’ wrote Haley.
Meanwhile, shocking scenes emerged from the airport in Kabul, where thousands of desperate Afghans seeking a flight to safety poured onto the runway, disrupting flight operations.
Bari Weiss, the former New York Times opinion editor, hosted a number of essays criticizing Biden’s troop withdrawal on her newsletter
Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on Monday
Afghan Taliban fighters are seen on a US-made military vehicle in Kabul on Monday
Several Afghans clung to the side of a U.S. military plane at Kabul’s airport on Monday as it taxied through crowds of people desperate to flee the Taliban-controlled capital, a video widely shared on social media showed.
At least eight people died as the chaos mounted at the airport.
Three stowaways fell hundreds of feet to their deaths after climbing onto the fuselage of a departing US Air Force C-17 plane as it took off from at Hamid Karzai International Airport, while hundreds of other desperate people tried to cling onto planes as they taxied down the runway.
Senior US military officials said troops shot and killed two armed Afghans among those trying to get onto the jet while US citizens were evacuated in two separate incidents. A further three people were caught under plane wheels amid scenes of anarchy as the country slips into Taliban control.
A Pentagon official said that US troops had come under fire at the airfield and grounded all flights while soldiers cleared the airfield with Apache helicopters and fired ‘warning shots’ to disperse the crowds. Flights resumed after 90 minutes but were suspended again after a security breach on the civilian side of the airport, a Pentagon spokesperson said.
Taliban fighters stand guard along a roadside near the Zanbaq Square in Kabul on Monday, as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country
Afghan passengers sit as they wait to leave the Kabul airport in Kabul on Monday, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war
U.S. troops fired warning shots to stop people getting on flights taking out diplomats and embassy employees, and two gunmen were also shot at the airport, U.S. officials said.
The evacuation flights were later halted because of the chaos. Germany said it had to divert its first of three planned evacuation flights to the Uzbek capital Tashkent because it could not land due to the throngs of people on the tarmac.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said U.S. forces were working with Turkish and other international troops to clear Kabul airport to allow evacuation flights to resume. He said several hundred people had been flown out so far.
Videos and photos posted on social media showed hundreds of civilians invading the airport’s single runway, jostling to climb stairs onto overhead gangways and sitting on the top of passenger jets in the hope of getting a flight out.
‘This is our airport but we are seeing diplomats being evacuated while we wait in complete uncertainty,’ Rakhshanda Jilali, an Afghan human rights activist who was trying to get to Pakistan, told Reuters in a message from the airport.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said all embassy personnel, including Ambassador Ross Wilson, had been transferred to the airport to await evacuation.
One video showed a military helicopter flying low to pave a path for a plane trying to take off through crowds of people.
Timeline of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals falling to the Taliban
Aug. 6 – ZARANJ – The Taliban take over the city in Nimroz province in the south, the first provincial capital to fall to the insurgents since they stepped up attacks on Afghan forces in early May.
Aug. 7 – SHEBERGHAN – The Taliban declare they have captured the entire northern province of Jawzjan, including its capital Sheberghan. Heavy fighting is reported in the city, and government buildings are taken over by the insurgents. Afghan security forces say they are still fighting there.
Aug. 8 – SAR-E-PUL – The insurgents take control of Sar-e-Pul, capital of the northern province of the same name. It is the first of three provincial centres to fall on the same day.
Aug. 8 – KUNDUZ – Taliban fighters seize control of the northern city of 270,000 people, regarded as a strategic prize as it lies at the gateway to mineral-rich northern provinces and Central Asia. Government forces say they are resisting the insurgents from an army base and the airport.
Aug. 8 – TALOQAN – The capital of Takhar province, also in the north, falls to the Taliban in the evening. They free prisoners and force government officials to flee.
Aug. 9 – AYBAK – The capital of the northern province of Samangan is overrun by Taliban fighters.
Aug. 10 – PUL-E-KHUMRI – The capital of the central province of Baghlan falls to the Taliban, according to residents.
Aug. 11 – FAIZABAD – The capital of the northeastern province of Badakhshan is under Taliban control, a provincial council member says.
Aug. 12 – GHAZNI – The insurgents take over the city, capital of the province of the same name, a senior security officer says.
Aug 12 – FIRUS KOH – The capital of Ghor province, was handed over to the Taliban on Thursday night without a fight, security officials said.
AUG 13 – QALA-E-NAW – The Taliban have captured the capital of the northwestern province of Badghis, a security official and the Taliban said.
Aug 13 – KANDAHAR – The Taliban have captured Afghanistan’s second biggest city of Kandahar, government officials and the Taliban said.
Aug 13 – LASHKAR GAH – The Taliban have captured the capital of the southern province of Helmand, police said.
Aug 13 – HERAT – Capital of Herat province in the west was under Taliban control after days of clashes, a provincial council member said.
Aug 13 – POL-E ALAM – Taliban capture provincial capital of Logar, 40 miles south of Kabul
Aug 15 – KABUL – The capital of Afghanistan falls to the Taliban barely a week after the group began its lightning offensive across the country, all but giving the extremist group full control of the country
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