According to satellite photos and a statement by Rep. Michael McCaul, the Taliban is holding six aircraft “hostage for demands” with American citizens and Afghan refugees, not allowing them to leave Afghanistan.
According to various reports, the Taliban are not allowing six flights with American citizens and Afghan refugees to depart Afghanistan, according to several news sources, including the New York Post and the Daily Wire.
A tweet by Daniel Lippman, a reporter at Politico, included a satellite photo showing the detained planes.
Lippman tweeted: “Newly released satellite images show six commercial airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan that are not allowed to depart by the Taliban. American citizens and Afghan interpreters are reportedly waiting to board the flights.”
Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on “Fox News Sunday” that the US State Department has cleared the flights to depart, but “the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”
“We have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport…with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters,” McCaul explained, “and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now.”
“Well, they are not clearing airplanes to depart,” McCaul continued. “They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days, these planes, and they’re not allowed to leave.”
“We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange,” McCaul added. “This is turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
According to one spokesperson from a private rescue group, the State Department of the Biden administration is blocking efforts to fly American citizens, green card holders, and special immigration visa applicants out of Afghanistan, the Daily Wire reported.
“Rick Clay, who runs the private rescue group PlanB, told Fox News the State Department is the only thing preventing the flights he’s organizing from leaving Afghanistan,” Fox reported. “Two other American individuals separately involved in evacuation efforts, whom Fox News is not naming to avoid jeopardizing ongoing rescue efforts, similarly said that the State Department is the sole entity preventing their charter flights from leaving Afghanistan.”
Some of the evacuation aircraft have been identified as being funded by a Glenn Beck-founded charity identified as Mercury One, according to the New York Post. Reportedly, the charter flights cost the organization $750,000 each.
The planes are grounded because negotiations between the Taliban and the State Department are “stuck at this point” and have not been given “final clearance” from the Taliban, according to a report by Newsweek.