White House Says There Is STILL Active Threat From ISIS-K With 100 Americans Stranded In Kabul, Fears Terrorists Could Sneak On Private Charter Flights And Launch Attacks On US Bases
- Jen Psaki said “there are still active ISIS-K threats” as she focused on efforts to get remaining Americans out of Afghanistan
- She said there are at least 100 more nationals in the country
- The press secretary denied reports that the administration was blocking charter flights from Kabul . left
- Instead, she said officials were concerned about charter flights landing at US military bases
- “We know that ISIS-K has a strong interest in attacking … our personnel on the ground in our military bases,” she said.
The White House said Thursday that ISIS-K continued to pose “active” threats even as at least 100 Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, protecting the US from the threat of terrorists using charter flights from Kabul to carry out an attack. .
During her regular briefing, President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said diplomatic efforts were continuing to rescue Americans left behind.
But she feared that ISIS-K, the local Islamic State offshoot behind the suicide bombing at Kabul airport last week that killed 13 Americans, remained a potent threat with ambitions to attack American personnel on military bases outside Afghanistan.
“We are in close contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with our diplomatic officials, and all these individuals are working closely with them to determine how to leave the country,” she said.
But she denied reports that the US thwarted rescue efforts by preventing charter flights from taking off from Kabul.
She said there were no more personnel on the ground in Afghanistan and that the US “does not control the airspace.”
The White House press secretary said “active ISIS-K threats remain” as she discussed efforts to rescue more than 100 Americans still in Afghanistan and using charter flights to get people out
Afghan evacuees board a plane bound for the United States on August 26, 2021 at US Air Force Base Ramstein, Germany. – The Ramstein Air Base, the largest US air base in Europe, hosts thousands of Afghan evacuees
Refugees receive instructions from a US naval soldier as they disembark from a US Air Force plane on August 31, 2021 after a flight from Kabul at Rota Naval Base, southern Spain
“We couldn’t stop a charter flight from taking off,” she said, “but what’s important for people to understand is what we’re worried about.”
It was difficult to know who was on board and who was organizing the flights, she said.
“These charter flights land at US military bases and we have to be very careful,” Psaki said.
“I think it’s understandable that we’re concerned about flights… where we don’t have that much information and understanding about the manifestos, what the protocols are in progress.
“There is also a question … active ISIS-K threats remain.”
‘The question is also where these flights go where they land.
“We know that ISIS-K is very interested in attacks on air targets, and our ground and ground personnel in our military bases, and these are some of the risks we consider.”
Extracting the remaining Americans is a priority for a government facing fierce criticism for ending the evacuation without bringing everyone home.
Kabul airport has been shut down after a hectic two-week operation to rescue more than 120,000 people.
A Qatari team arrived there on Wednesday amid talks to put it back into use.
“We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we can exploit it as soon as possible,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said at a news conference.
For now, foreigners and vulnerable Afghans trying to navigate overland remain out of the country, and are at risk of a terrorist attack.
Until recently, officials have targeted Al Qaeda, whose leader is believed to be on Afghan territory.
However, last week’s attack has brought a renewed focus on ISIS-K, which is expected to number several hundred fighters.
It grew rapidly from its inception around 2015 when the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria meant commanders in Afghanistan could enjoy prestige and funding from Middle Eastern benefactors.
But the Taliban retaliated, clearing many of their strongholds last year.
That shared enmity could give Pentagon strategists or the CIA a foothold in Afghanistan to track down the people behind the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said on Wednesday it is “possible” that the US will work with the Taliban to counter that threat.