The government of France has admitted Tuesday that it 'accidentally' evacuated a man from Afghanistan who had been a member of the Taliban. The man was subsequently detained, and is not the only one with potential terror links: "The man is believed to be close to another Afghan evacuee who is suspected of working for the Taliban, Gabriel Attal told BFM-TV."
"Both had been placed under surveillance on their arrival in France, and the man held was detained for violating the terms of this control measure," France24 reports. The security incident was revealed a day after a similar situation unfolded in the UK, where an Afghan evacuee was found to be on the country's 'no fly list'.
Likely such revelations of 'accidental' evacuations of Afghans who had links with the Taliban will only grow, given the rapid pace of civilian evacuations from Kabul airport still underway. On Monday alone US officials said a whopping 16,000 people, including Americans, had been airlifted out of the country over the prior 24 hours.
It would clearly be impossible to vet that many people and their backgrounds under the rapid and urgent Pentagon-overseen evacuation logistics at the airport.
In the case of the Taliban member who was flown into France, he had actually worked as an armed Taliban commander of a checkpoint:
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Info radio that he had left an area he was required to stay in for a "few minutes," insisting there had been no security lapse.
Attal said the main suspect helped in the evacuation of French people from Afghanistan "at an incredibly tense moment and probably saved lives". But he had "links with the Taliban, at some point, and this needs to be specified".
According to a ministerial document seen by AFP, he admitted his membership of the Taliban and said he had worked as the armed head of a Taliban checkpoint in Kabul.
Interestingly over a week ago French President Emmanuel Macron warned about this very scenario - and of course was widely condemned in European media for the statements.
France places an Afghan who was evacuated from #Kabul in custody on suspicion of links to the #Taliban, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal says.https://t.co/UrFQNbOO1c pic.twitter.com/Q9ue2WUhtR— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 24, 2021
Specifically it was his warning that Europe must brace itself for "irregular migratory flows" that immediately evoked most controversy:
Speaking on Monday in a televised address from his summer residence, Macron described the situation in Afghanistan as an "important challenge for our own security".
"We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds," he said.
Indeed the emergency nature of the rapid evacuation proceedings still ongoing out of Kabul, and which will continue to the end of the month at least, means the first casualty has likely been the security process vetting for individuals. Likely a number of more Taliban-linked individuals have slipped through the cracks and are now making their way West.