During her regular briefing, President Biden’s Press Secretary
But she raised fears that ISIS-K, the local offshoot of the
‘We are in close touch from the State Department, from our diplomatic officials, with all of these individuals working in close coordination with them to determine how they can leave the country,’ she said .
But she denied reports that the U.S. was thwarting rescue efforts by preventing charter flights taking off from Kabul.
She said there were no longer personnel on the ground in Afghanistan and that the U.S. ‘don’t control the air space.’
White House Press Secretary said, ‘there continue to be active ISIS-K threats,’ as she discussed efforts to rescue more than 100 Americans still in Afghanistan and the use of charter flights to get people out
Afghan evacuees get in a plane to the United States at the US Air Base Ramstein, Germany on August 26, 2021. – The Ramstein Air Base, the largest U.S. Air Force base in Europe hosts thousands of Afghan evacuees
Refugees receive instructions from a US navy soldier as they disembark from a US air force aircraft after a flight from Kabul at the Rota naval base, southern Spain, on August 31, 2021
‘We couldn’t prevent a charter flight from taking off,’ she said, ‘but what is important for people to understand is where we have some concern.’
It was difficult to know who was on board and who was organizing the flights, she said.
‘These charter flights are landing on US military bases, and we have to be very careful,’ Psaki said.
‘I think it’s understandable we have concern about flights… where we don’t have that level of information and understanding about the manifests, what the protocols are that are under way.
‘There’s also a question … there continue to be active ISIS-K threats.’
‘There’s also question of where these flights go where they land.
‘We know ISIS-K has a keen interest in attacks against aviation targets, and our personnel on the ground and our personnel on the ground in our military bases and these are among the risks that we take into account.’
Extracting the remaining Americans is a priority for an administration facing intense criticism for ending the evacuation without bringing everyone home.
Kabul airport stands idle after a frantic two-week operation to rescue more than 120,00 people.
A Qatari team arrived there on Wednesday amid talks to get it back into operation.
‘We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,’ said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani at a news conference.
For now that leaves foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans trying to navigate land crossings out of the country, and at risk of terrorist attack.
Until recently, officials were focused on Al Qaeda, whose leader is believed to be in Afghan territory.
The attack last week, however, has brought renewed focus to ISIS-K, which is though to number a few hundred fighters.
It grew rapidly from its inception around 2015 as the advances of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria meant commanders in Afghanistan could enjoy prestige and funding from Middle Eastern benefactors.
But the Taliban hit back, clearing many of its strongholds last year.
That shared enmity could offer Pentagon strategists or the CIA a foothold in Afghanistan with which to hunt down the people behind the suicide attack on Kabul airport.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said Wednesday it was ‘possible’ the U.S. will work with the Taliban to address that threat.