A satellite image that was released on Sunday reportedly shows six airplanes that the Taliban is not allowing to fly out of Afghanistan. The planes are supposed to be carrying American citizens and Afghan interpreters who helped the U.S. Military.
Daniel Lippman, a reporter at Politico, tweeted out a photo from Maxar Technologies, writing: “Newly released satellite images show six commercial airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan that are not being allowed to depart by the Taliban.”
“American citizens and Afghan interpreters are reportedly waiting to board the flights,” he added.
Newly released satellite images show six commercial airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan that are not being allowed to depart by the Taliban. American citizens and Afghan interpreters are reportedly waiting to board the flights. 📸: @Maxar pic.twitter.com/Ov7kB3z5VP
— Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) September 5, 2021
The satellite image follows a report from CBS News and remarks from a top U.S. lawmaker on Sunday that both said that the circumstances have effectively turned into a hostage situation.
“Multiple planes that are ready to take American citizens and green card holders out of the country are being denied permission to leave by the Taliban,” CBS News reported, according to congressional and NGO sources. An email viewed by the network said that the flights were cleared to land in Qatar “if and when” the Taliban agreed to let them leave.
A senior congressional source told the network that “the Taliban is basically holding them hostage to get more out of the Americans.”
“The group Ascend, an NGO that teaches young women leadership through athletics, told CBS News they have two planes that have been waiting for six days ready to take between 600 and 1200 people — including 19 American citizens and two permanent residents,” the report added. “The planes are not currently loaded. The passengers are being held nearby, because the Taliban won’t let them into the airport, according to a senior congressional source.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News during an interview that the Taliban was basically holding people hostage.
“Since we pulled out, how many Afghan allies have gotten out since the Taliban was in complete control of the country?” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked.
“Zero,” McCaul responded. “And, in fact, we have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif Airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now. They — we — [the] state has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport. So, I’m sorry, the answer to your question is zero. And that’s my concern is they’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.”
“You’re saying that there are Americans on airplanes ready to fly out of Afghanistan right now, and they’re not being allowed out because Taliban is making demands?” Wallace pressed. “What demands are the Taliban making?”
“Well, they are not — they are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days, these planes, and they’re not allowed to leave,” McCaul responded. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really, Chris, 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. My concern is that Zalmay Khalilzad, [our] special envoy who’s met with the Taliban, they’re in talks right now, and I think — I worry his recommendation to the administration will be to recognize the Taliban as the official government of the United States, a Taliban organization that is a terrorist organization.”
Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee: “We have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif Airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now.” pic.twitter.com/L9bB9PoVsE
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) September 5, 2021
Editor’s note: The title of this piece has been altered after publication for clarity.