Four Afghans who jumped into the wheel well of a departing U.S. military cargo jet fell to their deaths at the Kabul airport on Monday morning, Stars and Stripes reported. Taliban insurgents have seized every provincial capital in Afghanistan, and finally seized the capital of Kabul on Sunday, leaving Americans and our Afghan allies scrambling for their lives.
Horrifying video posted to social media shows at least two people plunging to the ground as the U.S. aircraft took off. According to reports, several men had attempted to attach themselves to the aircraft.
In a distressing video, Afghans can be seen attempting to hold onto a U.S. military plane as it takes off from Kabul airport. According to reports, at least three people died after falling from the aircraft. pic.twitter.com/WvrO0FIIyv
— euronews (@euronews) August 16, 2021
A separate video appears to show several men clinging to the side of an aircraft that was preparing to leave the airport.
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) August 16, 2021
Additional video footage shows the fear and desperation of the Afghan people as they swarmed Hamid Karzai International Airport to escape the Taliban.
Latest pictures from Kabul Airport. People are on their own now while the world watches in silence. Only sane advise to Afghan people…RUN pic.twitter.com/RQGw28jFYx
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) August 16, 2021
Many arrived with receipts for Indian visas, though their passports were still at the Indian Embassy, the worker said. Others who came included those with Special Immigrant Visas for travel to the U.S. and Afghans with similar hopes of travel to NATO countries they’d supported during the 20-year war.
Others with no documents or tickets at all, pleading for asylum, also arrived. The roads to the airport remain clogged with Afghans seeking refuge amid rumors that Canada had sent planes and was taking anyone seeking to leave, the witness told Stars and Stripes.
The civilian side of the airport was left unsecured, the witness said. Crowds entered the terminal and got onto the runway, where they slept during the night and continue to roam. U.S. service members warned them several times away from the military side of the facility, the witness said.
Another witness told the BBC that at least two civilians were killed amid the airport crowd. The Wall Street Journal put the number of dead at three, while Reuters reported five deaths, each citing witnesses.
Reports conflicted on whether the deaths were due to gunfire or a stampede within the crowd.
People broke windows in the terminal and destroyed furniture, the witness told Stars and Stripes.
The Taliban has seized abandoned U.S. military equipment, and weapons, including helicopters and drones.
The airlifting of U.S. personnel from the Kabul Embassy has led to comparisons to the Saigon airlift that marked the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
Senator Joe Biden voted to cut off Saigon in 1975. The photos from Saigon and Kabul sum up his achievements. pic.twitter.com/tCqOlJMYFV
— J Michael Waller (@JMichaelWaller) August 16, 2021
This all unfolded only a month after Biden said it was “highly unlikely” that the Taliban would overrun the country when the U.S. withdrew.
Today the Taliban takes over #Kabul just thirty some days after Biden claimed it was “highly unlikely” and that we “will not see” what we are seeing.
A sad day for Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/6Gz5SxKUQa
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) August 15, 2021
As the humanitarian catastrophe unfolded over the weekend, the vacationing Joe Biden was largely out of sight at the presidential country residence Camp David.
The White House released two photos of Biden in a conference room at the retreat discussing the situation in Afghanistan virtually with White House officials and National Security officials.
The photos left many confused, after social media users noticed that the president’s clocks showed London and Moscow to be three hours apart, when they they are currently two hours apart.
“This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul,” the Saturday tweet read.
This morning, the President and Vice President held a video conference with the national security team to discuss the ongoing efforts to draw down our civilian footprint in Afghanistan. In addition, the President and Vice President were briefed on the earthquake in Haiti. pic.twitter.com/7BKSdJ8OKo
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 14, 2021
On Sunday, the White House drew fire for releasing a photo that included CIA operatives and national security officials at the Doha Station in Qatar. The boxes were labeled “CIA” and “Doha Station,” and revealed their faces.
Heck of a job, White House communications shop. I figure you would want to crop out the teleconference screens labeled "CIA" and "Doha Station." You panicking amateur idiots. https://t.co/ZFoICYYVwO
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) August 15, 2021
Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence in the Trump administration, tweeted, “Who took this picture outing intel officials? Dear God.”
Who took this picture outing Intel officials?!
Dear God. https://t.co/XsRcUVeysQ
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 15, 2021
A number of world leaders are expressing “dismay and concern” at the chaotic situation in Kabul.
“I think it is very important the West collectively should work together to get over to that new government, be it by the Taliban or anybody else, that nobody wants Afghanistan, once again, to be a breeding ground for terror,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday.
Ireland’s Minister of Trade Leo Varadkar said: “Shocking news from Afghanistan. Particularly concerned for the women and girls of the country. Ireland will continue to use its voice on the UN Security Council to condemn Taliban violence and prevent further suffering.”
In Italy, Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio told the newspaper Corriere della Sera on Sunday that there would be no new military commitment to Afghanistan.
“Surely the West has made mistakes and it is right to admit it,” di Maio said, according to an NBC News translation of the interview.
Former President Trump released a statement on Sunday lambasting Biden for botching the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Joe Biden gets it wrong every time on foreign policy, and many other issues. Everyone knew he couldn’t handle the pressure. Even Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said as much. He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him—a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America. The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.
After I took out ISIS, I established a credible deterrent. That deterrent is now gone. The Taliban no longer has fear or respect for America, or America’s power. What a disgrace it will be when the Taliban raises their flag over America’s Embassy in Kabul. This is complete failure through weakness, incompetence, and total strategic incoherence.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was “out of the office” Monday, and will not be available for the rest of the week, according to Fox News.
“I will be out of the office from August 15th-August 22nd,” read the email returned to Fox. There was no White House press briefing scheduled on Monday.
Facing intense criticism for badly botching the Afghanistan troop withdrawal, Biden will reportedly address the nation at 3:45pm EST. from the White House on Monday. The administration made the announcement late Monday morning as #BidenIsMIA trended on Twitter.
Biden previously had no public events scheduled for the day.
“Biden will address the country today, as Afghans clinging to US planes fall to their deaths in Kabul. Hard to script a worse propaganda victory for our enemies as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” said former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement. “There is nothing Biden can say now to right the wrong of his failed policy.”