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US State Dept Urges US Citizens To "Immediately" Leave Kabul Airport Area Due To "Specific, Credible" Threat

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Aug 29, 2021 - 06:12 AM

(Update 10pm ET): Just hours after the Joe Biden said that he was informed by US military commanders that another attack on the troops may come within the next 24-36 hours, the US embassy in Kabul warned of a “specific” and “credible” threat for the area around the airport, urging US citizens to "immediately" leave the area.

In a security alert issued early Sunday, the US embassy sounded the alarm about a potential attack at the Kabul airport, two days after a suicide bombing killed some 170 Afghans, 13 US servicemen and two British nationals.

Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately.

Earlier on Saturday, Biden said that despite intelligence suggesting an attack at the airport is "highly likely", the US would continue to evacuate the remaining Americans and Afghan allies. It appears now that even that avenue has been cut off.

According to the AP, western leaders acknowledged their withdrawal would mean leaving behind some of their citizens and many locals who helped them over the years, and they vowed to try to continue working with the Taliban to allow local allies to leave after President Joe Biden’s Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw from the country.

Although most of its allies had finished their evacuation flights, the U.S. planned to keep its round-the-clock flights going until the deadline, saying 113,500 people had been evacuated since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban claimed Kabul. Britain ended its evacuation flights Saturday, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to “shift heaven and earth” to get more of those at risk from the Taliban to Britain by other means.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed Saturday that the group’s forces were holding some positions within the airport and were ready to peacefully take control of it as American forces flew out. But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby denied the claim.

The Taliban did deploy extra forces outside of the airport to prevent large crowds from gathering in the wake of Thursday’s bombing . New layers of checkpoints sprang up on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces. Areas where the crowds had gathered over the past two weeks in the hopes of fleeing the country were largely empty.

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Update (315pm ET): On Saturday afternoon, just hours after the US reportedly droned some unnamed "ISIS-K planners and facilitators" who were said to be behind the Kabul airport bombing, Joe Biden warned that "the situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high," and said that his military commanders informed him that "an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.

In a statement released by the White House, Biden said that he met with national security officials, and vowed the U.S. would carry out further strikes against the terrorists responsible for the bombing.

"I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground," Biden added. "They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel."

And just to make sure there is even more escalation - as more drone strikes will lead to more suicide bombings and even more deaths as the quintessential CIA narrative has made all too clear - Biden warned that the strike against ISIS-K will not be the last.

"This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay," Biden said in a statement. "Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt."

Yet what is confusing is that according to Reuters reporting, victims of the US drone strike were women and children despite the Pentagon's assurances that no civilians were hit:

In Jalalabad, community elder Malik Adib said three people were killed and four were wounded in the air strike, adding that he had been summoned by the Taliban investigating the incident.

"Women and children are among the victims,” said Adib, though he did not have information about their identity. The U.S. military statement said: "We know of no civilian casualties."

Finally, considering the "drone strike" was supposed to be "punishment" and retaliation against the previous bombing and meant to prevent future suicide bombings, one would be forgiven to ask just why did the US drone someone if all it would provoke is even more bloodshed? Unless, of course, that's precisely what the CIA's intention was from the very beginning.

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Update (1230pm ET): Less than a day after the Pentagon said on Friday night that U.S. forces conducted a drone strike (in which a Reaper drone flew to Afghanistan from a base in the Middle East) in eastern Afghanistan's Nangahar Province  against an 'ISIS-K planner' who was plotting 'future attacks' on U.S. forces in Kabul, and was killed while driving in a vehicle along with an 'associate,' on Sunday morning the Pentagon said will not release names of the 2 ‘high-profile’ ISIS planners (up from one as disclosed originally) killed, but merely described them as "ISIS-K planners and facilitators."

The Pentagon's adamant refusal to name the targets of the drone strike is perplexing in light of the Biden admin's eagerness to give out "kill lists" which reveal the names of American citizens and Afghan allies to the Taliban.

The U.S. Central Command initially said one person, described as an ISIS-K planner, was killed in a counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan’s Nangahar Province, east of Kabul. That person was suspected of being involved in plotting future attacks, but had no direct link to Thursday’s assault in Kabul, according to a U.S. official.  That number has now been increased to two.

“They have lost some capability to plan and conduct missions,” Kirby told reporters on Saturday, though “the threat stream is still active” and the strike doesn’t “get us in the clear.” In other words, the strike has achieved absolutely nothing besides further angering the local ISIS brigade.

The Pentagon also said that there was no coordination or intelligence sharing with Taliban ahead of U.S. drone strike of two 'high-profile' planners.

While the Pentagon has refused to release any details surround this operation, several photos emerged on twitter reportedly of the site of the US drone strike in Nangarhar. According to @natsecjeff, it "looks like a house and a three wheeler were hit. The location is in PD-7 of Jalalabad city in Nangarhar province and as per Afghan sources the strike took place last night around 12."

He adds that while he has no confirmation from credible Afghan sources about who was based at that house and who got killed "I do know for a fact that three wheelers have been used in multiple ISKP attacks in the past. "

Residents of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, said they had heard several explosions from an air strike around midnight, though it was not clear they were caused by a U.S. drone. In Jalalabad, community elder Malik Adib said three people were killed and four were wounded in the air strike, adding that he had been summoned by the Taliban investigating the incident.

"Women and children are among the victims,” said Adib, though he did not have information about their identity. The U.S. military statement said: "We know of no civilian casualties."

Meanwhile, the Taliban, who are now officially in control of Afghanistan, condemned the U.S. strike, saying they have arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast.

"The Americans should have informed us (Taliban) before conducting the air strike, it was a clear attack on Afghan territory," a Taliban spokesman told Reuters.

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Earlier:

In a purposefully "remarkable" turnaround for Biden's catastrophic evacuation of Afghanistan, where the intelligence never even considered the option of a Taliban surge thus handing over the country to the militant Islamists on a silver platter,  late on Friday the US said its intelligence had finally redeemed itself when it carried out a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan against an Isis-K “planner” behind the deadly attack on Kabul airport on Thursday, even as countries wrap up desperate efforts to evacuate thousands of Afghans trying to flee, potentially sparking an even more aggressive retaliation from the organization.

“U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner,” said Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. He added that the unmanned assault took place in Afghanistan’s Nangahar Province, east of Kabul. The target was killed by a Reaper drone while traveling in a vehicle.

“Initial indications are that we killed the target,” Urban said in a statement. “We know of no civilian casualties.”

It wasn't clear what said "indications" were or what evidence the Biden admin planned to show to the public that any of this had ever happened. It also wasn't clear just how the US intelligence apparatus which failed so miserably with the evacuation of Afghanistan managed to track down and successfully eliminate the one person who was supposedly behind it all. Indeed, coming at the lowest point for the careening Biden admin, it wouldn't be a huge surprise for the president to fabricate an entire drone attack just to appease his neo-con media warlords and in hopes of boosting his cratering approval rating.

Contradicting somewhat the official narrative, a U.S. official quoted by Bloomberg said that the unnamed person was suspected of being involved in plotting future attacks, but had no direct link to Thursday’s assault in Kabul.

In other words, the Biden admin claims it carried out what is effectively a carbon copy of the operation that Trump used to take out Iran's top general, Qasem Soleimani, back in January 2020. The only difference is back then there was not only evidence of the strike, but also confirmation on the ground. This time around, however, people are understandably skeptical that any of this even happened.

Then again it wouldn't be the first time a local warlord was quietly and secretly disposed of: after all none other than Osama bin Laden got a quick and traceless burial at sea under Barack Obama. Hardly surprising that Joe Biden took a similar route.

The alleged drone attack came in the wake of new warnings from top American security officials that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, just days ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan. Isis-K, an Afghan affiliate of terrorist group Isis, claimed responsibility for the attack that this week killed more than 100 Afghan civilians and at least 13 US military personnel.

Joe Biden vowed to complete the U.S. evacuation mission in Afghanistan and pledged to pursue the attackers, saying Thursday evening that “we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay.”  

Asked by reporters on Friday whether the president would order a mission to kill those responsible for the bombing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psakitold reporters: “He does not want them to live on the Earth any more.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people remain on the airport’s grounds awaiting evacuation, though their hopes of getting out are fading as countries conduct their final evacuation flights and Taliban fighters turn away eligible evacuees.

The latest strike marks at least the third time the General Atomics-built Reaper, has been used in a high-profile attack. A Reaper firing laser-guided Hellfire missiles was used in a nighttime November 2015 attack in Syria that killed Islamic State terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.

More recently, a Reaper fired two Hellfires during a night attack outside Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani just after he arrived in Iraq. The Reaper, a $64 million long-endurance aircraft with a 20-meter (66-foot) wingspan, had Soleimani in its sights for about 10 minutes before firing on two cars carrying the Iranian commander and other senior leaders and aides, including the head of an Iraqi-based militia group that had been.

Those skeptical that any of the above actually even happened, there will be a simple test: if the suicide attacks in and around the Kabul airport end in the coming days, Biden may have pulled it off. If not...well, we are about to see - metaphorically speaking of course -  a whole lot more non-existent drone strikes.

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