Afghanistan evacuation: Women and children trampled at Kabul airport

West’s empty promises: How many people have we actually evacuated? 

America

The promise: At least 22,000 evacuees including US citizens and those holding visas

Aid groups said 80,000 visas may need to be issued to keep Biden’s pledge to help all those who aided US forces, but that promise has almost certainly been broken 

The reality: Just 7,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul in the last five days, the Pentagon said Thursday, despite there being capacity for up to 9,000 per day

Since the end of July, some 12,000 people have been airlifted out, including Embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghans with special visas  

Who’s left? That means to keep even its most-modest promises, the US has at least 10,000 more people to evacuate before the air bridge closes

Britain

The promise: The UK said it wants to evacuate 7,000 UK citizens and Afghan staff from the country

Prime Minister Boris Johnson then promised to take another 5,000 refugees this year as part of a scheme that will allow 20,000 to settle over five years  

The reality: Britain evacuated 2,163 people from Kabul between Sunday night and Friday morning, and is aiming to take out another 1,000 per day as long as flights can keep operating

In total, the UK has now taken some 3,800 people out of Afghanistan in recent weeks, including more than 600 UK citizens and thousands of Afghans covered by the resettlement scheme

Who’s left? To keep its most-modest promises, the UK must evacuate some 3,200 people – but up to 8,200 if the prime minister’s pledge to take refugees is to be met

 

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Women and children were trampled as gunshots rang out at Kabul airport today – while a German civilian was shot trying to reach the airstrip and the UK warned that evacuation flights could stop in just a few days and some people who have been promised sanctuary will end up being left behind. 

Footage taken outside the north gate of Hamid Karzai airport showed how families were shoved to the floor as crowds surged away from the gates as soldiers let off smoke grenades and fired into the air, with young children trodden on as screams pierced the air.

It is just the latest in a shameful string of videos to come from the airport that has included babies being passed over barbed wire, women being whipped, and men plunging to their deaths from planes as western nations are chased out of Afghanistan by the Taliban.  

Meanwhile the German government said a male civilian was shot on their way to their airport but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening and they will be evacuated ‘soon’ 

US President Joe Biden is facing mounting fury across the world for abandoning Afghans to their fate – and yesterday it emerged that his administration last month that the Afghan capital would quickly fall to the Taliban after an American withdrawal. 

British SAS troops are now being sent outside the airport perimeter to find and extract those who are trapped, but it is almost certain the ‘small teams’ will not be able to reach everyone who needs help in time.  

And Germany said it has flown special forces helicopters into the country in the hopes that they can fly rescue missions to retrieve German citizens and others who are trapped in Kabul and bring them to the airport. 

Tokhi, 34, a former British interpreter, told The Times that he has been to the airport three times since UK forces emailed him early this week to say he had a seat on a flight out – but has so-far failed to get past even the first of two Taliban checkpoints blocking the entrance he needs to reach.

Meanwhile Shafiqa, who trained with British special forces near Kabul, said she and two female colleagues have filled out forms requesting space on UK flights but have yet to be called to the airport even as the Taliban tries to hunt them down.

The 26-year-old said she has fled her home due to rumours that Islamist fighters have accessed lists of British collaborators and are now using them as hit-lists. She is now moving between houses in the city in the hopes she can dodge the jihadists long enough for space on an evacuation flight to free up. 

Evacuation flights are continuing to depart today with the US hoping to take some 2,000 people out and the UK another 1,000. 

Britain has promised to evacuate some 7,000 UK citizens and Afghan staff from the country, in addition to 5,000 refugees, but armed forces minister James Heappey warned today that not everyone who needs help will get it.

‘The sad truth is, we don’t have it in our gift to stay there until absolutely everyone is out,’ he told BBC Radio 4. ‘The air bridge could last two more days, five more days, ten more days.’

Responding to criticism that British aircraft are leaving the airfield under-capacity, he said the armed forces are ‘working hard’ to make sure each plane is filled. 

On Thursday 963 people were taken out of Kabul, he said, and added that another 1,000 were due to leave on Friday – though that is below the government’s initial 1,200-a-day target.   

The US has evacuated some 7,000 people since Sunday, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday, bringing the total since July to 12,000 with a target of at least 22,000 – though aid groups have said 80,000 would need to be flown out to keep Biden’s promise to provide sanctuary to all those who helped US forces. 

NATO said a total of 18,000 people have been flown out of the country since Sunday which includes staff of smaller missions – far short of promises by western countries to take more than 100,000 Afghan refugees between them and even as some 50,000 wait for salvation outside the airport gates.

One image laid bare the extent of the empty promises – showing what is thought to be a Norwegian mercy flight taking off from Kabul carrying the wife of a British ex-Marine who is still stranded in Afghanistan, but almost nobody else.

Posting the image on Twitter last night, Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing wrote: ‘Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty… scandalous as thousands wait outside Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right.’ 

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Women and children were trampled underfoot in Kabul today in just the latest shameful piece of footage to come from the airport as western nations are chased out of Afghanistan by the Taliban

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Crowds of increasingly desperate people are still trying to get into the airfield in the hopes of escaping Taliban rule, with people trampled after soldiers fired shots and let off smoke grenades – causing the crowd to surge backwards

Despite pledging to take more than 100,000 Afghan refugees between them, some western flights are still leaving Kabul near-empty - as this photo taken on board what is believed to be a Norwegian flight last night showed

Despite pledging to take more than 100,000 Afghan refugees between them, some western flights are still leaving Kabul near-empty - as this photo taken on board what is believed to be a Norwegian flight last night showed

Despite pledging to take more than 100,000 Afghan refugees between them, some western flights are still leaving Kabul near-empty – as this photo taken on board what is believed to be a Norwegian flight last night showed

James Heappey, the UK armed forces minister, has warned that evacuation flights may have to stop in just a few days and that not everyone who has been promised sanctuary will be able to get out

James Heappey, the UK armed forces minister, has warned that evacuation flights may have to stop in just a few days and that not everyone who has been promised sanctuary will be able to get out

James Heappey, the UK armed forces minister, has warned that evacuation flights may have to stop in just a few days and that not everyone who has been promised sanctuary will be able to get out

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

Afghans with visas and Western expats say they are unable to get to the gates of the airport because a crowd of thousands of desperate  Afghans is blocking their way

Afghans with visas and Western expats say they are unable to get to the gates of the airport because a crowd of thousands of desperate  Afghans is blocking their way

Afghans with visas and Western expats say they are unable to get to the gates of the airport because a crowd of thousands of desperate  Afghans is blocking their way 

Afghan people gather along a road as they wait to be evacuated from Kabul airport on Friday

Afghan people gather along a road as they wait to be evacuated from Kabul airport on Friday

Afghan people gather along a road as they wait to be evacuated from Kabul airport on Friday

Afghan citizens with US visas sit inside a military evacuation plane as it leaves Kabul on Thursday, amid criticism that planes are not being fully loaded

Afghan citizens with US visas sit inside a military evacuation plane as it leaves Kabul on Thursday, amid criticism that planes are not being fully loaded

Afghan citizens with US visas sit inside a military evacuation plane as it leaves Kabul on Thursday, amid criticism that planes are not being fully loaded 

A woman holds up her British passport as she waits to be evacuated from Kabul airport after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban

A woman holds up her British passport as she waits to be evacuated from Kabul airport after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban

A woman holds up her British passport as she waits to be evacuated from Kabul airport after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban

British passport holders wave their documents at Kabul airport as people say they have been unable to get into the terminal due to thousands-strong crowds crammed up to the gates

British passport holders wave their documents at Kabul airport as people say they have been unable to get into the terminal due to thousands-strong crowds crammed up to the gates

British passport holders wave their documents at Kabul airport as people say they have been unable to get into the terminal due to thousands-strong crowds crammed up to the gates

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul and are deciding who gets to come in and who has to stay out. Checkpoints have been set up on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back

The Taliban’s TRUE colours: Islamists beat Afghans for carrying the national flag as reports describe brutal torture and executions

The Taliban have been at pains to present a reformed image since marching into Kabul this weekend after US president Joe Biden’s abandonment of Afghanistan.

But a there is mounting evidence that the hardline Islamist regime is anything but reformed from the despotic jihadists of 20 years ago, who brutally oppressed women and allied themselves with Al Qaeda terrorists

Now those are being exposed, and Afghanistan’s new rulers have proven beyond what little doubt there was that they are just as bloodthirsty and tyrannical as their equivalents from two decades ago.

The latest footage to emerge from within Afghanistan shows Taliban fighters attacking anyone carrying an Afghan national flag in at least a dozen incidents primarily in the capital Kabul.

It comes after human rights group Amnesty International revealed that Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of the country’s Ghazni province last month, with eyewitnesses giving harrowing accounts of the killings.

Six men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off during the atrocity, which took place between 4-6 July in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district, the group revealed.

In another revenge killing, one regional police chief who stood against the Taliban was executed in cold blood by the jihadist group, local reports say.

Shocking video footage being circulated on the internet shows the kneeling handcuffed and blindfolded figure of General Haji Mullah Achakzai, chief of Badghis Province near Herat, being gunned down in a hail of bullets.

Footage posted online shows Taliban fighters attacking anyone carrying an Afghan national flag in at least a dozen incidents primarily in the capital Kabul. 

A second video posted online shows a Taliban fighter attacking an Afghan who was carrying the national flag, with his gun. 

Despite the Taliban’s claims of an ‘amnesty’ there is also mounting evidence that they are making it hard for any of their opponents to make it to the safety of Kabul airport and a US evacuation flight.

Terrifying video shows fighters spraying assault rifle bullets just yards away from women and children gathered at the airport’s perimeter.

A leaked UN dossier says the Taliban are ‘arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.’

 

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The UK government is thought to be drawing up contingency plans for a hasty 24-hour exit from the country, a medium-term withdrawal over a period of several days, and a more-orderly withdrawal over a longer period.

Whitehall sources told The Times that the longer-term option is preferred as being safer for British troops, but were forced to admit ‘we are in the American’s hands’ – with little indication coming from Washington as to how long they are willing to hold out.

Mr Farthing is one of dozens of westerners and visa holders who say they cannot get to the airport due to the huge crowds gathered around it, who are being brutalised by Taliban guards on a daily basis after the Islamists took over security.

Asila Wardak, human rights commissioner at The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said a male relative who was carrying travel documents got shot in the head outside the airport whilst begging the US to provide safe passage for all those it has promised sanctuary to so they can leave the country.

Meanwhile the Taliban has begun hunting through crowds at the airport and going door-to-door elsewhere in the country, looking for those who collaborated with US or NATO forces – torturing and executing those they find. 

General Haji Mullah Achakzai, police chief of Badghis Province near Herat, was gunned down in cold blood by Taliban fighters in disturbing footage posted online – while the relative of a German journalist was also shot to death by Islamist gunmen who were unable to find the reporter himself.

Nine ethnic Hazara men were also killed, Amnesty said, with six shot and three tortured to death – with one strangled to death using a scarf and one sliced to pieces with muscles stripped from his body.   

Taliban fighters have also been seen shooting over the heads of crowds at Kabul airport while striking people with rifles, as those on the ground reported beatings and whippings being dished out seemingly at random. Crowds have also gathered at the entrance to the military wing of the airport, which is guarded by US and British troops who have been firing into the air to disperse the crowds.

Westerners face a race against time to get out of Kabul, with control of the airport resting on the up to 60,000 troops. Joe Biden has said they will stay until all US citizens are evacuated, but there are suspicions among British troops that they could leave abruptly – leaving the 600 British unable to keep operating to evacuate UK nationals and interpreters. 

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace told The Times that British nationals and visa holders are being allowed through a Taliban ‘ring of steel’ around the airport, but that he is aware that not everyone is able to get through crowds at the airport or make it to Kabul from elsewhere in the country.

‘There are people emailing or telling us that they can’t make it,’ he admitted. ‘We encourage them to see what they can do to help… It’s very important that the Foreign Office reach out to those people.’ 

Meanwhile Mr Farthing told MailOnline that British troops had fired warning shots over the heads of a mother who was clutching a small baby at the airport. 

He said: ‘There were a number of shots fired overhead and people started rushing around in panic. I don’t know whether it was live rounds but even if it wasn’t the fear factor is the same. It does nothing to resolve the matter and makes an already tense situation much worse.’

While US and UK troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort, the Taliban are causing pandemonium and were filmed today shooting from the hip just yards away from women and children, and whacking people with the butts of their rifles. 

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country. 

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place.

Tory MPs yesterday joined a ferocious backlash against Mr Raab over his failure to intervene while on holiday to help airlift translators out of Afghanistan. The Mail revealed yesterday that the Foreign Secretary had been advised by officials to interrupt his luxury trip to Crete on Friday to urgently contact his Afghan counterpart.

Taliban stormed TV station and told female journalist to remove makeup as women are banned from the air

An Afghan woman TV presenter has told how she has been forced into hiding after being ordered off air by the Taliban at gunpoint – as female news anchors are banned from the air.

Mehr Mursal Amiri was ordered ‘to go home, remain there and never return’ after militant Islamists burst into Afghanistan’s national TV network RTA’s studios in Kabul. She was also berated for wearing make-up and refusing to wear a hijab.

Fellow RTA anchors Shabnam Daran and Khadija Amin were also barred from entering the offices earlier as fears grow for women in the country after the Taliban’s vow to impose strict Sharia law.

Ms Amiri, 24, who is also in the final year of a law degree, said: ‘Everything has changed and for the worse.

 

‘Democracy is over and the future is very dark, particularly for women in my country.’

The journalist, presented a two-hour live show on six mornings a week and is a familiar face to Afghans. The station widened its reach in 2008 to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America and broadcasts 24 hours a day.

She said the Taliban henchman were armed and angry when they stormed the state-owned TV station’s headquarters and ordered every woman to leave immediately.

‘It was very scary for us and the station has been taken over by the Taliban now with most of the male staff being removed too.

‘When I looked at my TV today, it was like watching a Mosque with bearded men talking about religion and Sharia law, Nothing else. It is as if women do not exist in our world.’

 Fellow RTA news anchor Shabnam Dawran, who does wear a hijab, also said she was ordered to ‘go home’. She later posted a clip warning ‘our lives are under threat’ while showing her office ID card.

Another RTA journalist Khadija Amin said she went to the office but was barred from entering.

‘Later other colleagues were banned too,’ she said.

 

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Mr Raab, however, failed to make the call and it was ‘delegated’ to the duty Foreign Office minister Lord Goldsmith. It was thought the telephone conversation had then taken place the following day.

But in an explosive development last night it emerged the call had never actually taken place. The Foreign Office admitted that as the Afghan regime collapsed, it had proved impossible to rearrange.

The revelation will intensify the pressure on Mr Raab, who yesterday faced a clamour to consider his position and resign.

Yesterday, he insisted he would not step down as he broke cover to hold a virtual meeting of G7 leaders. The Foreign Office released pictures of the Foreign Secretary at work and on the phone and said he was working to provide humanitarian assistance and support in Afghanistan.

Afghans who risked their lives by working as translators alongside British soldiers accused the Foreign Secretary of a ‘betrayal’ and warned that his failure to get urgent assistance could cost lives.

Angry Conservative MPs accused Mr Raab for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ and of lacking commitment to the job, with one Tory peer saying he should reflect on his future. Opposition parties meanwhile, said Mr Raab was guilty of a ‘dereliction of duty’ and called for him to be sacked.

Afghan translator Rafi Hottak, who was injured while alongside soldiers in Helmand, was among those to tell of his fury last night, saying: ‘It is a betrayal.

‘The priority should have been British citizens and those Afghans who helped them. They are trapped in chaos now and in the days and hours before the Taliban arrived anything that could have been done should have been done.’

And one angry Tory MP said: ‘Raab was asleep at the wheel. Backbench MPs are absolutely livid about his ‘not my problem guv’ attitude, as if it was not his responsibility. It has really riled up colleagues. The issue is not that he was on holiday, it is that he seemed to be unaware of what was happening.’

Last night, a leaked United Nations report warned the Taliban were now plotting murderous revenge against those Afghans who had worked with the West. The head of the group providing intelligence to the UN warned the Taliban were carrying out a highly-organised door-to-door hunt for people on their wanted list.

Female demonstrators took to the streets of Kabul waving the black, red and green flag which has become a symbol of defiance to the country’s jihadist rulers.

They were joined by thousands across the country who celebrated the 1919 handover of power from the British by rejecting their new overlords. It comes just a day after three were shot dead for flying the flag during protests.

The Taliban responded with beatings and gunfire while tearing down flags, despite their pledge to be a ‘reformed’ and ‘moderate’ version of the brutal outfit which controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Islamists fighters have also been celebrating independence day in their own fashion – by flying their black and white flag and claiming victory over American forces.

The chaos outside the airport appears to be growing by the day and is causing dangerous stampedes in which several people have already been killed this week, including a 14-year-old girl.  

Former British Marine, Mr Farthing, told MailOnline: ‘Two expats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.

‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.’

An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told ABC it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’ while Max Sangeen, a Canadian interpreter, said his wife and children – including a 20-day-old baby – are trapped in Kabul despite having the correct documents.

But it is not clear what western troops can do to help. There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport – alongside smaller numbers of Turks and Australians – but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.

‘We can be killed at any time’: Afghan translators tell of their fear as Taliban plot revenge 

Heroic Afghan translators last night told how they feared for their lives – as a UN report warned the Taliban are secretly plotting revenge against those who worked with the West.

The interpreters blasted Dominic Raab’s failure to make a critical phone call before the fall of Kabul as a ‘betrayal’. They said the danger they faced was ‘critical’.

The Mail can reveal that at least six translators, who have already been granted sanctuary in the UK but had recently returned to bring their families to join them, are now stranded in Kabul in a red tape nightmare.

Mr Raab rejected advice from his senior officials to call the Afghan foreign minister Haneef Atmar last Friday. He was in Greece on holiday, and within two days Kabul fell to the Taliban.

One former translator, Rafi Hottak, 35, who is now in the UK, said: ‘I’m shocked. How could somebody do something like that in this chaotic situation?

‘The interpreters and their families could be killed at any time. I’m a British citizen. Was he too busy to look after the families of British citizens in Afghanistan? If he was too busy during his holidays to help, shame on him.’

Waheed, who spent three years with UK forces and is waiting with his wife and two children for a flight out of Afghanistan, said: ‘The situation was critical. He would have known that. Was his holiday too important?

‘Each flight has carried around 200 people. It is an emergency. Anything to make things move quicker must be worth trying. Every minute lost could cost a life.’

Abdul, a father of four and veteran of the front lines, who is also waiting to fly to the UK, said: ‘It is hard to explain why a politician would not pick up a telephone if there is the smallest chance it would make a difference. It is disappointing.’

 

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The huge US contingent keeping the airport secured piles pressure on Britain to get its citizens out quickly, with the smaller UK force unlikely to be able the hold the site if the Americans leave.

Those on the ground say the Islamists have little or no idea what they are doing or who to let through, as the UN warned fighters are hunting through the crowd for those who collaborated with British or American forces so they can be ‘punished’ – despite public reassurances that there will be no reprisal attacks.

Mr Wallace said Taliban guards are allowing people with travel documents through checkpoints and British flights are not leaving the country empty – insisting that ‘not a single seat is wasted’. He revealed 120 people were evacuated this morning, with 138 due to follow later. 

There were eight RAF transport planes – made up of A400 Atlas, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemasters – scheduled to leave Kabul today. But with military transports able to carry up to 150, it means there will have been empty seats on the flights despite Mr Wallace’s claims. 

The passengers were made up of British citizens, media and human rights staff and Afghans who had worked for the British. The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were six British flights out of Kabul on Wednesday – despite Mr Wallace saying there were seven to 10 daily – meaning a maximum of 900 passengers were on board and free from the Taliban.

Meanwhile Joe Biden said when pressed Wednesday US troops were ‘going to stay’ in Afghanistan until they get American citizens out, even if it means running through an August 31 deadline order. The US President made the statement despite his own order soldiers will leave by the date, acknowledging the effort could run over if its citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan amid security and bureaucratic hurdles. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he expects 18 US flights to take off today, though it is not clear how many people will be able to board each plane.

But Farthing slammed the comments as naive, saying: ‘Nobody can actually reach [the processing centre] because of the crowds and the chaos surrounding it. 

‘It’s a lottery whether you get picked to get through the security. At the moment people who have seats booked on flights out of the airport are being turned back while others who storm fencing or are picked completely at random are getting on planes.

‘I’m livid at the Government’s mishandling of this, they need to take a moment, get their heads together, and work out a way with the Americans to help fly out ex-pats and those who need safety – like those who work for me – because otherwise we are looking at the worst humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan for a generation.’

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

US marines guide an Afghan woman and her child towards an American evacuation flight at Kabul airport

US marines guide an Afghan woman and her child towards an American evacuation flight at Kabul airport

US marines guide an Afghan woman and her child towards an American evacuation flight at Kabul airport

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

Taliban is intensifying hunt for Afghans who worked for US and UK as they go door-to-door to threaten relatives, UN report warns despite the terror group’s claims of an ‘amnesty’ 

Taliban militants are intensifying their hunt for people who worked with UK, US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, according to a confidential report to the UN.

Jihadists are going door-to-door to threaten relatives of civil servants, interpreters and other consular staff, while other militants are even stopping people outside Kabul airport.

Despite the Taliban’s claims of an ‘amnesty’, terrifying video today showed fighters spraying assault rifle bullets just yards away from women and children gathered at the airport’s perimeter. 

The UN dossier leaked to The New York Times says the Taliban are ‘arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.’

It was filed to the UN by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group which provides intelligence on global conflicts.

It contained a letter dated August 16 from the Taliban to a senior counter-terror official in Afghanistan who had worked alongside the US and British officials.

The letter ordered the man to report to the Military and Intelligence Commission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Kabul. If he failed to do so, it warned that his family ‘will be treated based on Shariah law.’ 

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Fawad Ahmadzai, another Canadian interpreter, said he and his family – a wife and four children – had been forced to ‘fight’ their way through guards to get to the airport terminal – saying they ignored his Canadian travel documents, beat him, and shot at him. 

‘I was waving at them that I am a Canadian citizen,’ he said. ‘They didn’t even care about which passport I carry, they would only push us and hit us, and shooting ahead of us, scaring us so that we would leave.’

German national Vanessa Faizi, who had become trapped in Kabul after going to Afghanistan to visit family, spoke of violence at the airport before she managed to get a flight out. 

‘We saw children being trampled on,’ she told journalists at an airport back in Germany.

Mr Wallace urged Afghan women not to pass babies to soldiers, saying unaccompanied children will not be put on flights. He did not say where the children will end up instead. 

Elsewhere, Biden continued to defend his decision to withdraw – insisting chaos was inevitable while dismissing footage of people falling to their deaths from US planes as happening ‘four or five days ago’.

Boris Johnson was also mauled over the British government’s response to the crisis in a Commons debate, while foreign secretary Dominic Raab was facing calls to resign after it emerged he failed to make a crucial phone call about getting Afghan translators out of the country – delegating to a junior minister.

Labour MP Tom Tugendhat summed up the feeling of dismay when he said: ‘This is what defeat looks like.’  

Mr Wallace also warned of the long-term damage the retreat from Afghanistan will do to the perception of western power, saying the scenes playing out in Kabul will encourage enemies in Moscow.

‘What I’m uncomfortable with is that we have a world order now, where resolve is perceived by our adversaries as weak, the West’s resolve,’ Wallace told BBC TV.

‘That is something we should all worry about: if the West is seen not to have resolve and it fractures, then our adversaries like Russia find that encouraging,’ Wallace told LBC radio.

Britain fears the Taliban’s return and the vacuum left by the West’s chaotic withdrawal will allow militants from al Qaeda to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, just 20 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

As the airlift of Western citizens and Afghans who worked for foreign governments sought to ramp up, Biden said US forces will remain until the evacuation of Americans was finished, even if that meant staying past the August 31 deadline for complete withdrawal.

Evacuatees from Kabul before their departure to Warsaw from Navoiy International Airport in Uzbekistan

Evacuatees from Kabul before their departure to Warsaw from Navoiy International Airport in Uzbekistan

Evacuatees from Kabul before their departure to Warsaw from Navoiy International Airport in Uzbekistan

Hipster daughter of Afghan president goes for a leisurely stroll in NYC 

The daughter of exiled Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was photographed going for a stroll in New York City after her father was forced to seek asylum in Dubai while Afghanistan is left in chaos in the hands of the Taliban.

Mariam Ghani, 42, was pictured during a leisurely walk with a friend on Thursday after her father was given asylum in Dubai on ‘humanitarian grounds’ after fleeing Afghanistan in a helicopter that was allegedly filled with $169million in cash.

Ghani has been living in New York City for years, settling in a loft in a luxury co-op in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, the New York Post reported.

The visual artist and filmmaker, who was born and raised in America, is said to practice a bohemian lifestyle much different than that of women in Afghanistan.

When interviewed in 2015, the New York Times described her loft as a ‘map to her layered identity,’ featuring floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books, embroidered pillows made by a collective in Aleppo, Syria, and a Turkmenistan rug gifted to her by her father. Her refrigerator was decorated with magnets touting motivational sayings and her kitchen shelves lined with green tomatoes she pickled herself.

‘I’m a Brooklyn cliché,’ she said at the time, commenting on her way of living.

Ghani, who has refused to speak with reporters about the ongoing takeover of Afghanistan, is encouraging Americans to advocate for the Afghans whose lives have and continue to be impacted by the Taliban’s insurgence in the country.

She posted on social media Tuesday answering the question: ‘What can we do to help Afghans right now?’

 

Ghani, who says she is ‘angry, grieving and terribly afraid for [her] family, friends and colleagues left behind in Afghanistan,’ encourages US citizens to contact their elected officials asking to halt deportations of Afghan refugees and expedite Special Immigrant Visas.

‘To everyone who has checked in and reached out in solidarity over the past days: thank you. It has meant a lot,’ she wrote, noting that she is ‘working feverishly to do anything [she] can on their behalf’.

She says that, in addition to contacting elected officials, individuals can donate to or volunteer with several organizations who help refugees and displaced people.

Art institutions and coalitions can publicly advocate for cultural workers to be recognized as ‘urgently at risk under a Taliban regime,’ Ghani stated. She also urged foundations, art institutions and academic facilities to sponsor migration of at-risk artists, journalists and activists.

Ghani was born in Brooklyn, raised in suburban Maryland and has spent her adult life launching an art and teaching career.

Her work has been showcased in museums around the world, including the Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim and MOMA in New York.

She studied at New York University and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. In 2018 she became a faculty member at Bennington College in Vermont.

Ghani grew up in exile and was unable to travel to Afghanistan until 2002 when she was 24 years old, according to her Guggenheim biography. However, her art was often inspired by the her family’s homeland and her multicultural upbringing.

Her father, who began working for the Afghan government in 2002, recently fled Afghanistan in secret as the Taliban took the capital city of Kabul.

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In total, at least 8,000 people have been evacuated since Sunday, a Western security source in Kabul said.

A day earlier armed Taliban members prevented people from getting into the airport compound.

‘It’s a complete disaster. The Taliban were firing into the air, pushing people, beating them with AK47s,’ said one person who was trying to get through on Wednesday.

A Taliban official said commanders and soldiers had fired into the air to disperse crowds outside Kabul airport, but told Reuters: ‘We have no intention to injure anyone.’

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said domestic air carriers and civilian pilots will be allowed to fly into Kabul to conduct evacuation or relief flights only with prior US Defense Department approval.

Facing a barrage of criticism over the US withdrawal, Biden said chaos was inevitable. Asked in an interview with ABC News if the exit of US troops could have been handled better, Biden said: ‘No. … The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.’

A new government to replace that of President Ashraf Ghani, who is in exile in the United Arab Emirates, may take the form of a ruling council, with Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in overall charge, a senior member of the group said.

Afghanistan would not be a democracy. ‘It is sharia law and that is it,’ Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior Taliban official, told Reuters.

Ghani, who has been bitterly criticised by former ministers for leaving Afghanistan as Taliban forces swept into Kabul on Sunday, said he had followed the advice of government officials. He denied reports he took large sums of money with him.

‘If I had stayed, I would be witnessing bloodshed in Kabul,’ Ghani said in a video streamed on Facebook.

Meanwhile the Taliban celebrated Afghanistan’s Independence Day on Thursday by declaring it had beaten ‘the arrogant of power of the world’ in the United States, but challenges to their rule ranging from running the country’s frozen government to potentially facing armed opposition began to emerge.

From ATMs being out of cash to worries about food across this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports, the Taliban face all the challenges of the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed. 

The Taliban so far have offered no plans for the government they plan to lead, other than to say it will be guided by Shariah, or Islamic, law. But the pressure continues to grow.

‘A humanitarian crisis of incredible proportions is unfolding before our eyes,’ warned Mary Ellen McGroarty, the head of the World Food Program in Afghanistan.

Thursday marked Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the 1919 treaty that ended British rule in the central Asian nation.

‘Fortunately, today we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain,’ the Taliban said. ‘We at the same time as a result of our jihadi resistance forced another arrogant of power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan.’

Unacknowledged by the insurgents, however, was their violent suppression of a protest Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, which saw demonstrations lower the Taliban’s flag and replace it with Afghanistan’s tricolor. At least one person was killed.

While urging people to return to work, most government officials remain hiding in their homes or attempting to flee the Taliban.

Questions remain over Afghanistan’s $9 billion foreign reserves, the vast majority now apparently frozen in the US. The country’s Central Bank head warns the country’s supply of physical US dollars is ‘close to zero,’ which will see inflation raise the prices of needed food while depreciating its currency, the afghani.

In another blow to the country, a drought has seen over 40 per cent of the country’s crop lost, McGroarty said. Many fled the Taliban advance and now live in parks and open spaces in Kabul.

‘This is really Afghanistan’s hour of greatest need, and we urge the international community to stand by the Afghan people at this time,’ she said.

Two of Afghanistan’s key border crossings with Pakistan, Torkham near Jalalabad and Chaman near Spin Boldak, are now open for cross-border trade.

Hundreds of trucks have passed through, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

But traders still fear insecurity on the roads, confusion over customs duties and pressures to price their goods even higher given the economic conditions.

There has been no armed opposition to the Taliban. But videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the US during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering there. That area is in the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban.

Those figures include members of the deposed government – Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who asserted on Twitter that he is the country’s rightful president, and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi – as well as Ahmad Massoud, the son of the slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post, Massoud asked for weapons and aid to fight the Taliban.

He wrote: ‘I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban.

‘The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again.’

Afghan protesters defied the Taliban for a second day today, waving their national flag in scattered demonstrations that were met with renewed violence by the militants who are facing growing challenges to their rule.

A UN official warned of dire food shortages in this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports and experts said the country was severely short on cash, highlighting that the Taliban face the same problems as the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed.

In light of these challenges, the militants have moved quickly to suppress any dissent, despite their promises they have become more moderate since they last imposed draconian rule on Afghanistan. Many fear the Taliban will succeed in erasing two decades of efforts to expand women’s and human rights and remake the country.

A procession of cars and people near Kabul’s airport carried long black, red and green banners in honor of the Afghan flag – a banner that is becoming a symbol of defiance since the militants have their own flag. At another protest in Nangarhar province, video posted online showed one demonstrator with a gunshot wound bleeding, as onlookers tried to carry him away.

In Khost province, Taliban authorities instituted a 24-hour curfew Thursday after violently breaking up another protest, according to information obtained by journalists monitoring from abroad. The militants did not immediately acknowledge the demonstration or the curfew.

Protesters also took the streets in Kunar province, according to witnesses and social media videos that lined up with reporting by The Associated Press.

The demonstrations – which come as Afghans mark the Independence Day holiday that commemorates the 1919 treaty that ended British rule – were a remarkable show of defiance after the insurgents violently dispersed a protest Wednesday. At that rally, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, demonstrators lowered the Taliban’s flag and replace it with Afghanistan’s tricolor. At least one person was killed.

Meanwhile, opposition figures gathering in the last area of the country not under Taliban rule talked of launching an armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance, which allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion.

It was not clear how serious a threat they posed given that the militants overran nearly the entire country in a matter of days with little resistance from Afghan forces.

The Taliban so far have offered no specifics on how they will lead, other than to say they will be guided by Shariah, or Islamic, law. They are in talks with senior officials of previous Afghan governments. But they face an increasingly precarious situation.

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

The Taliban’s TRUE colours: Islamists beat Afghans for carrying the national flag and BAN female presenters from TV – as reports describe brutal torture and executions away from the Western media in Kabul 

The Taliban have been at pains to present a reformed image since marching into Kabul this weekend after US president Joe Biden’s abandonment of Afghanistan.

But a there is mounting evidence that the hardline Islamist regime is anything but reformed from the despotic jihadists of 20 years ago, who brutally oppressed women and allied themselves with Al Qaeda terrorists

Now those are being exposed, and Afghanistan’s new rulers have proven beyond what little doubt there was that they are just as bloodthirsty and tyrannical as their equivalents from two decades ago.

The latest footage to emerge from within Afghanistan shows Taliban fighters attacking anyone carrying an Afghan national flag in at least a dozen incidents primarily in the capital Kabul.

It comes after human rights group Amnesty International revealed that Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of the country’s Ghazni province last month, with eyewitnesses giving harrowing accounts of the killings.

Six men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off during the atrocity, which took place between 4-6 July in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district, the group revealed.

In another revenge killing, one regional police chief who stood against the Taliban was executed in cold blood by the jihadist group, local reports say.

Shocking video footage being circulated on the internet shows the kneeling handcuffed and blindfolded figure of General Haji Mullah Achakzai, chief of Badghis Province near Herat, being gunned down in a hail of bullets.

Among the other atrocities and oppression being reported:

  • The UN says jihadists are going door-to-door to threaten relatives of civil servants, interpreters and other consular staff, while other militants are even stopping people outside Kabul airport;  
  • Taliban militants searched for a journalist for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and one of the reporter’s family members was shot dead;
  • Three female TV anchors were barred from entering their channel’s studio by Taliban and were ordered to ‘to go home, remain there and never return’;  
  • Senior Afghan officials said they have been forced into ‘deep hiding’ to avoid the marauding fighters who they suspect have gained access to government employee databases. 
One video appears to show a heavily armed militant jumping out of a pickup filled with Taliban and pulling his gun on a man on a bicycle

One video appears to show a heavily armed militant jumping out of a pickup filled with Taliban and pulling his gun on a man on a bicycle

The fighter hastily takes the national emblem of the cyclist

The fighter hastily takes the national emblem of the cyclist

One video appears to show a heavily armed militant jumping out of a pickup filled with Taliban and pulling his gun on a man on a bicycle, who is shrouded in an Afghan flag. The fighter hastily takes the national emblem of the cyclist 

A second video posted online purportedly shows a Taliban fighter attacking an Afghan who was carrying the national flag, with his gun

A second video posted online purportedly shows a Taliban fighter attacking an Afghan who was carrying the national flag, with his gun

Footage shows the militant hit the man in the back of the head with his gun as he tries to flee

Footage shows the militant hit the man in the back of the head with his gun as he tries to flee

A second video posted online purportedly shows a Taliban fighter attacking an Afghan who was carrying the national flag, with his gun. Footage shows the militant hit the man in the back of the head with his gun as he tries to flee

The fighter then turns the barrel of the gun on the man and thrusts it towards him several times, but does not threaten to shoot

The fighter then turns the barrel of the gun on the man and thrusts it towards him several times, but does not threaten to shoot

The militant then turns the gun again and raises the weapon above his head before bringing it down on the defenceless man, who raises his arms to protect himself

The militant then turns the gun again and raises the weapon above his head before bringing it down on the defenceless man, who raises his arms to protect himself

The fighter then turns the barrel of the gun on the man and thrusts it towards him several times, but does not threaten to shoot. The militant then turns the gun again and raises the weapon above his head before bringing it down on the defenceless man, who raises his arms to protect himself

Footage posted online shows Taliban fighters attacking anyone carrying an Afghan national flag in at least a dozen incidents primarily in the capital Kabul.

One video appears to show a heavily armed militant jumping out of a pickup filled with Taliban and pulling his gun on a man on a bicycle, who is shrouded in an Afghan flag.

The camouflage-wearing militant is seen hastily taking the black, red, and green national emblem off the cyclist before he lashes out and slaps the man in the face.

He then is seen walking back to a pickup adorned with the white and black Taliban flag and filled with militants. He then appears to angrily scrunch up the Afghan flag and put it on the floor of the pickup.

A second video posted online shows a Taliban fighter attacking an Afghan who was carrying the national flag, with his gun.

Footage shows the militant hit the man in the back of the head with the butt of his gun as he tries to flee. The fighter then turns the barrel of the gun on the man and thrusts it towards him several times, but does not threaten to shoot.

The fighter then turns the gun again and raises the weapon above his head before bringing it down on the defenceless man, who raises his arms to protect himself.

The video then pans to a Taliban fighter holding the national flag after apparently seizing it from the man.

Despite the Taliban’s claims of an ‘amnesty’ there is also mounting evidence that they are making it hard for any of their opponents to make it to the safety of Kabul airport and a US evacuation flight.

Terrifying video shows fighters spraying assault rifle bullets just yards away from women and children gathered at the airport’s perimeter.

A leaked UN dossier says the Taliban are ‘arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.’

It was filed to the UN by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group which provides intelligence on global conflicts.

General Haji Mullah Achakzai

General Haji Mullah Achakzai

General Haji Mullah Achakzai

General Haji Mullah Achakzai

Shocking video footage being circulated on the internet apparently shows the kneeling handcuffed and blindfolded figure of General Haji Mullah Achakzai, chief of Badghis Province near Herat, being gunned down in a hail of bullets

That report followed the emergence of video the execution of General Haji Mullah Achakzai near Herat.

The disturbing clip of the police chief’s slaying was re-tweeted by former BBC Persia journalist Nasrin Nawa after it emerged on the feed of an apparent resistance group to the Taliban called @PanjshirProvince.

After a content warning, Ms Nawa added: ‘Haji Mullah, Police chief of Badghis province executed by #Taliban. This is their public amnesty!’

The Taliban had promised that there would be no acts of vengeance against former enemies following their takeover of Afghanistan on Saturday.

Gen. Achakzai, in his early 60s, was an avowed enemy of the Taliban and known as a seasoned fighter in the long-running conflict between the group and the forces of the Afghan civil government, which fell at the weekend.

According to reports, the governor and police chief of Laghman Province near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan have also been detained, with their fate to be decided by the Taliban high command.

The brutal execution follows numerous reports of Taliban patrols going door-to-door in some areas and taking men of fighting age into detention.

In the most brutal evidence, Human rights group Amnesty International interviewed eyewitnesses and reviewed photographic evidence following a series of killings in Mundarakht approximately 100 miles south west of Kabul. .

On 3 July 2021, fighting intensified in Ghazni province between Afghan government forces and the Taliban.

Villagers said they fled into the mountains to traditional iloks, their summer grazing land, where they have basic shelters.

There was not much food for the 30 families that fled, so the following morning, July 4, five men and four women returned to the village to get supplies.

They found that their homes had been looted, and Taliban fighters were waiting for them.

Wahed Qaraman, 45, was taken from his home by Taliban fighters who broke his legs and arms, shot him in the right leg, pulled his hair out, and beat his face with a blunt object.

Another man, Jaffar Rahimi, 63, was severely beaten and accused of working for the Afghan government after money was found in his pocket.

He was strangled to death with his own scarf.

Three people involved in the burial of Rahimi said that his body was covered in bruises, and the muscles of his arms had been carved off.

Sayed Abdul Hakim, 40, had been taken from his home, beaten with sticks and rifle butts, had his arms bound, and shot twice in the leg and twice in the chest.

His body was dumped next to a nearby creek.

One eyewitness, who assisted with the burials, told Amnesty International: ‘We asked the Taliban why they did this, and they told us, ”When it is the time of conflict, everyone dies, it doesn’t matter if you have guns or not. It is the time of war.’

Senior Afghan officials told The Telegraph they have been forced into ‘deep hiding’ to avoid the marauding fighters who they suspect have gained access to government employee databases.

Earlier this week, former British Army officers told the same paper that hundreds of elite Afghan soldiers had gone into hiding and were trying to flee the country.

The units were made up of the Taliban’s most feared enemies and there are fears that they are intent on exacting revenge.

Already, harrowing footage has emerged of the jihadists carrying out brutal executions of former government officials who surrendered.

Another senior figure in the former government, who spoke anonymously, said that he had been targeted for his view that women and girls should be educated.

Biden administration was warned LAST MONTH by US diplomats in Kabul of an impending Taliban ‘catastrophe’ if troops withdrew and was urged to evacuate ALL Americans starting on August 1 

A dozen diplomats sent a confidential memo to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was rapidly gaining ground and the city was vulnerable to collapse

A dozen diplomats sent a confidential memo to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was rapidly gaining ground and the city was vulnerable to collapse

A dozen diplomats sent a confidential memo to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was rapidly gaining ground and the city was vulnerable to collapse

State Department officials in the Kabul embassy told the Biden administration last month that the Afghan capital would fall and to speed up evacuations, a new report claims.

A dozen diplomats sent a confidential memo in a dissent channel to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was rapidly gaining ground and the city was vulnerable to collapse, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On July 8, President Biden said it was ‘highly unlikely’ the Taliban would take control of Afghanistan and denied there would be chaos in Kabul.

It is the latest in a series of reported warnings the Biden administration potentially ignored as American forces left and the insurgents swept through the country with ease.

There are mounting questions over how the White House, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence services were evaluating the future of Afghanistan, the threat of the Taliban and how quickly power would change hands.

Afghan security forces were collapsing, they said, and offered ways to mitigate the advancing insurgents.

But it may have been too late to stop them.

The State Department memo, according to the report, also called for the government to use tougher language on the violence in the past from the Taliban and urged them to start collecting information for Afghan allies who qualified for Special Immigrant Visas after working with US forces.

The Journal reported that 23 Embassy staffers signed the cable and rushed to deliver it considering the deteriorating situation in Kabul.

Blinken reviewed the cable, a personal familiar with it told the paper.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told the Journal: ‘He’s made clear that he welcomes and encourages use of the dissent channel, and is committed to its revitalization. We value constructive internal dissent.’

The memo urged the administration to start flights evacuating people out of the country no later than August 1st.

A former CIA counter-terrorism chief also advised the president’s campaign Kabul would crumble within days with a depleted American presence.

Douglas London was the CIA's counter-terrorism chief for south and south-west Asia

Douglas London was the CIA's counter-terrorism chief for south and south-west Asia

President Biden has repeatedly said he was not warned that Kabul could fall so fast

President Biden has repeatedly said he was not warned that Kabul could fall so fast

Former CIA analyst Douglas London (left) disputed President Biden’s claim that he was not warned Afghan forces could collapse within days of U.S. withdrawal. London said it was among  a range of assessments briefed to Biden and Trump officials

Boris Johnson is savaged by MPs on all sides over ‘catastrophic failure’ in Afghanistan 

MPs hammered Boris Johnson over the ‘catastrophic failure’ in Afghanistan – as the PM swiped at Joe Biden saying the ‘successful’ Afghan mission could not continue without ‘American might’.

As the desperate evacuation effort continues in Kabul, the premier defended his handling of the chaos insisting there was a ‘hard reality’ as a result of the US stance.

Mr Johnson told the recalled chamber – packed out for the first time since last year after Covid restrictions were dropped – that the ‘sacrifice’ of British troops was ‘seared into our national consciousness’. 

He said the ‘core mission’ had been achieved as Afghanistan had not been a hotbed for terrorism.

However, he was immediately assailed by Tories, with defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood saying the West had ‘ceded the country to the very insurgents we went to defeat’. 

Theresa May said Afghanistan would now be a breeding ground for extremism, accusing the PM of operating ‘on a wing and a prayer’ and hoping it would be ‘alright on the night’. Former chief whip Mark Harper said there had been a ‘catastrophic failure’.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the premier had displayed ‘staggering complacency’, pointing out that his last visit to Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary in 2018 had been a ploy to avoid a vote on Heathrow Airport expansion.

There were also calls for the government to go further and faster in providing safe haven for Afghans who face the threat of persecution under the new Taliban regime. 

Labour’s Chris Bryant said only 5,000 of 20,000 refugees were set to be accepted this year, raging that the rest were being asked to ‘hang around and wait until they have been executed’.

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But in an interview released on Thursday morning, President Biden claimed that he was never told that such a rapid collapse was possible.

And a day earlier, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he never saw any intelligence warning that the Afghan government could fall so quickly.

‘There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,’ Milley said.

Their claims were disputed in a detailed account describing the state of understanding at the CIA written by Douglas London, the agency’s former counter-terrorism chief for south and south-west Asia, which offered a very different assessment.

He said the rapid collapse was one of a number of possible scenarios.

‘Ultimately, it was assessed, Afghan forces might capitulate under the circumstances we witnessed, in projections highlighted to Trump officials and future Biden officials alike,’ he wrote on the Just Security website.

London, who also served as a volunteer adviser to the Biden campaign after leaving the CIA in 2019, scoffed at the president’s claim that events in Afghanistan unfolded more rapidly than expected.

‘That’s misleading at best,’ he said. ‘The CIA anticipated it as a possible scenario.’

The Biden administration remains under intense pressure to explain what it did and did not know as it pushed ahead with the president’s order to bring home troops by Sept. 11.

Allies have said they were blindsided by the rapid pace and were not kept abreast of decision-making.

Britain’s most senior general said on Wednesday that the decision to abruptly leave Bagram air base, about 25 miles north of Kabul, on July 1 shattered Afghan morale.

London’s account says the Trump and Biden teams were given different estimates of how long President Ashraf Ghani and his security forces could resist a Taliban retreat, depending on the speed of withdrawal.

‘So, was it 30 days from withdrawal to collapse? 60? 18 months? Actually, it was all of the above, the projections aligning with the various “what ifs,”‘ he wrote.

But both presidents, he said, were motivated by seeking a political win in bringing home troops and ending the country’s ‘forever wars.’

‘For the candidate, who had long advocated withdrawal, the outcome was, as it had been with Trump, a foregone conclusion despite what many among his counterterrorism advisors counseled,’ he wrote.

‘President Biden himself has said as much in terms of his mind being made up.’

During the past week, Biden has shifted blame to the intelligence community, insisting that the rapid advance of the Taliban had taken the administration by surprise.

‘The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,’ he said last week.

'There was nothing that I or anyone else saw it indicated a collapse of this army in this government in 11 days,' said Gen. Mark Milley

'There was nothing that I or anyone else saw it indicated a collapse of this army in this government in 11 days,' said Gen. Mark Milley

‘There was nothing that I or anyone else saw it indicated a collapse of this army in this government in 11 days,’ said Gen. Mark Milley

And in an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Biden said there was no warning of such a precipitous fall.

‘Number one, as you know, the intelligence community did not say back in June or July that, in fact, this was gonna collapse like it did,’ he said.

Stephanopoulos proved for more detail. He asked: ‘They thought the Taliban would take over, but not this quickly?’

Biden replied: ‘But not this quickly. Not even close.’

In another part of the interview he said he could not remember ever being advised by senior Pentagon figures to maintain a military presence in the country.

Reports suggest that his generals urged him to leave 2,500 troops to support and train the Afghan force.

‘No, no one said that to me that I can recall,’ Biden said.

Milley echoed his commander-in-chief’s words during an earlier briefing when he said he had seen a range of forecasts.

‘The timeframe of a potential collapse was widely estimated and ranged from weeks to months and even years following our departure,’ he said.

‘There was nothing that I or anyone else saw it indicated a collapse of this army in this government in 11 days.’

After Kabul fell, regional experts have pointed out that anyone with an understanding of Afghanistan should have expected a possible cascade of surrenders or negotiations as commanders sensed the switch of momentum from government to Taliban.

London said those assessments were part of the briefings.

‘Switching sides for a better deal or to fight another day is a hallmark of Afghan history,’ he wrote. ‘And US policy to impose an American blueprint for a strong central government and integrated national army served only to enable Ghani’s disastrous and uncompromising stewardship.’ 

Raab call NEVER happened: Foreign Secretary’s job hangs by a thread after government admits truth about crucial call to save Afghan translators’ lives 

Dominic Raab’s job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place.

Tory MPs yesterday joined a ferocious backlash against the Foreign Secretary over his failure to intervene while on holiday to help airlift translators out of Afghanistan. The Mail revealed yesterday that Mr Raab had been advised by officials to interrupt his luxury trip to Crete on Friday to urgently contact his Afghan counterpart.

The Foreign Secretary, however, failed to make the call and it was ‘delegated’ to the duty Foreign Office minister Lord Goldsmith. It was thought the telephone conversation had then taken place the following day.

Dominic Raab's job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place

Dominic Raab's job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place

Dominic Raab’s job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place

But in an explosive development last night it emerged the call had never actually taken place. The Foreign Office admitted that as the Afghan regime collapsed, it had proved impossible to rearrange.

The revelation will intensify the pressure on Mr Raab, who yesterday faced a clamour to consider his position and resign.

Yesterday, he insisted he would not step down as he broke cover to hold a virtual meeting of G7 leaders. The Foreign Office released pictures of the Foreign Secretary at work and on the phone and said he was working to provide humanitarian assistance and support in Afghanistan.

Afghans who risked their lives by working as translators alongside British soldiers accused the Foreign Secretary of a ‘betrayal’ and warned that his failure to get urgent assistance could cost lives.

Angry Conservative MPs accused Mr Raab for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ and of lacking commitment to the job, with one Tory peer saying he should reflect on his future. Opposition parties meanwhile, said Mr Raab was guilty of a ‘dereliction of duty’ and called for him to be sacked.

Afghan translator Rafi Hottak, who was injured while alongside soldiers in Helmand, was among those to tell of his fury last night, saying: ‘It is a betrayal.

‘The priority should have been British citizens and those Afghans who helped them. They are trapped in chaos now and in the days and hours before the Taliban arrived anything that could have been done should have been done.’

And one angry Tory MP said: ‘Raab was asleep at the wheel. Backbench MPs are absolutely livid about his ‘not my problem guv’ attitude, as if it was not his responsibility. It has really riled up colleagues. The issue is not that he was on holiday, it is that he seemed to be unaware of what was happening.’

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

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