The chaos and terror plaguing American citizens desperate to get inside the U.S. military’s perimeter at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan is ramping up as the August 31 deadline for U.S. forces to withdraw completely.
Reports now indicate that the Taliban has begun attempting to confiscate U.S. passports at the checkpoints that have been thrown up. This news comes as panic increased following a travel alert issued by the State Department warning Americans not to attempt travel to the airport unless given individual instructions from a U.S. official.
As Americans remained away from the airport gates, Afghan citizens attempting to leave the country have stampeded the areas outside the airport, leading to further panic, injuries, and death.
A mother whose two-year-old child was trampled to death outside an airport gate said that the situation was like drowning and trying to hold her baby above the water.
A man told the New York Post that a Taliban fighter tried to take it away and turn him back as he was trying to show his passport at an airport gate. He said that he was lucky that a U.S. Marine intervened and returned his passport.
According to a former Navy SEAL on-site with a rescue operation, other people have seized documents, including driver’s licenses and passports. He said that “stranding these people is a complete disgrace and is significantly worse than Saigon.”
CNN has reported that U.S. embassy personnel are responsible for destroying some Afghan passports. The passports were allegedly destroyed during visa application processing, as embassy employees burned documents in bulk while preparing to flee the embassy.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) said the U.S. must develop alternative methods of identification and processing for those whose passports were lost or destroyed. He suggested phone numbers as a possible alternative form of identification. He also said that many Afghan allies of the U.S. could safely travel outside the airport carrying American labels.