374 evacuees rescued from Afghanistan by group of veterans, assisted by Qatar

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Chalk up another win for Afghan Rescue Crew. With the assistance of Qatar officials, the private group of American veterans and volunteers successfully evacuated 374 American citizens and foreign nationals from Afghanistan. The group calls itself Plan B because it is working diligently to rescue the thousands left behind during Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. The group has a long list of names of people hoping to live long enough under the reign of the Taliban to evacuate.

This isn’t much available to read of this evacuation. A couple of tweets yesterday confirmed that it happened, one from the Department of Defense and one from a reporter who is a foreign correspondent for Fox News. I first saw it in a short post by a combat correspondent and foreign correspondent active across the globe. He received word of the evacuation from an ARC board member.

The Fox correspondent reported it earlier in the day. He reports it is the ninth evacuation flight organized by Qatar.

I wrote about ARC’s efforts last month. The group is doing what the State Department either won’t do or can’t do. Either way, it is a national disgrace how the withdrawal was conducted and the chaotic fallout after the last plane took off from the airport in Kabul. The State Department continues to downplay the number of American citizens and Afghan helpers left behind. Now we see from DOD’s tweet that yesterday’s flight out of Ramstein Air Base in Germany may be one of the last.

DOD’s tweet seems odd, given an article in the Wall Street Journal published four days ago. It reported that the State Department plans “to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan before the end of the year to help U.S. citizens, residents and some visa applicants leave the country.” The State Department is depending on cooperation from the Taliban and coordination with other countries. Has the State Department decided to use the example provided by ARC? As usual, the Biden administration is short of details.

In addition, Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger aviation, and it remains unclear who will manage air-traffic control and ground operations.

The small number of U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans left behind after the chaotic evacuation effort in the final weeks of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan could be eligible for seats on the U.S.-sponsored flights.

The State Department has yet to schedule a date to resume evacuation flights because it is still working through arrangements with neighboring countries, the State Department official said. Among the issues being worked out are documentation for travelers, permission to fly over other countries and procedures with the Taliban and foreign governments.

“As soon as we have the right combination of documentation and logistics, we will get going again,” the senior State Department official said in an interview.

This begs the question, what’s taking so long? The State Department should already have the proper documentation of American citizens, those holding green cards, and Afghan helpers promised safe passage out of Afghanistan after the military left the country. If the problem is logistics, then the State Department is once again showing a weak hand with brutal terrorists. This is essentially a hostage situation for those left behind and the Biden administration carries on as though the situation is normal. Nothing about the withdrawal from Afghanistan was normal.

Qatar is helping with American volunteer efforts. It requires all passengers have valid travel documents, which is good. Not all evacuees get on flights to the United States. It’s good news that the ones who do are providing proper paperwork in order to board a flight to America.

Today it is being reported that the Taliban will help the State Department evacuate American citizens and Afghan helpers by the end of the year. State Department spokesman Ned Price refutes a lack of effort being reported about the State Department. No one paying attention believes Price, though.

We haven’t been able to get a flight out in a couple of weeks,’ the official told the WSJ.

State Department spokesman Ned Price hit out at the claims, saying that there were no plans to resume evacuation flights ‘à la what we had prior to August 31.’

‘The charter flights have been routine,’ Price said. ‘Our goal is to make them even more routine to lend a degree of automaticity to these operations so that we can facilitate the departure of Americans, of lawful permanent residents and others.’

This is the administration that can’t shoot straight. Communication coming from the Biden administration is usually confusing and contradictory. One department says one thing, another says something else. Price says there are no plans to resume evacuation flights and then pivots to “routine” charter flights. That’s clear as mud. In the meantime, the Taliban is unable to get a hold on ISIS-K terror attacks, which are increasing.

News that the Taliban would assist the US with evacuations came after The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that killed 47 people and wounded scores more.

In a statement posted late Friday on social media, IS said two of the group’s members shot and killed security guards manning the entrance of the Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province.

Friday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the dramatic U.S. exit from the country, which allowed the Taliban to seize control of the Afghan capital. It was also the first major attack by the group in the country’s south.

IS carries out frequent attacks in its eastern stronghold, but recently has shown signs of expansion, with attacks in the north and Kabul.

It is unclear what the hold-up is. Why announce flights will resume at the end of the year instead of tomorrow or next week? The U.S. government has the resources to make it happen if it wanted to do that. Instead, American citizens and Afghans left behind are at the mercy of Islamic terrorists. Our allies around the world no longer trust the United States to do the right thing, to protect its own citizens and those to whom we gave our word. Thank goodness for American veterans and volunteers willing to step up and do what the Biden administration won’t do or is incapable of doing.