NBC News correspondent Richard Engel filed a report with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning in which he highlighted what he termed a “bizarre” security arrangement between U.S. forces on hand to evacuate Americans from the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Taliban forces they were fighting not long ago.
The report noted the “exposed” troops’ “worst fear” came true when ISIS-K fighters launched suicide bombings and other attacks at the airport on Thursday, killing 11 Marines, two U.S. Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman, as well as scores of Afghan civilians.
Following the attack, Engel said that the dynamic on the ground has changed and that the U.S. forces have little choice but to rely on Taliban partners to help facilitate the withdrawal ahead of the rapidly approaching deadline on Tuesday.
“The U.S. is relying on the Taliban to prescreen the crowds pushing to get into the airport, hoping for a flight out of Afghanistan — patting them down before they’re checked again by U.S. troops,” Engel reported. “This staggeringly new and bizarre security cooperation broke down.”
Security analysts and experts on terrorism and the region, in general, have noted that most ISIS-K fighters are former Taliban members who have formed a more extreme splinter organization and as such, are not natural allies of the militant group now in charge of most of the country.
Nevertheless, Engel noted, that doesn’t make the new security arrangement any less peculiar, given the now-concluding 20-year conflict.
“Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. was bombing the Taliban,” Engel said. “But when U.S. troops pulled out, triggering the collapse of the Afghan army, now, there’s no one left but the Taliban to protect American forces as they leave.”
“This is close-up work,” the head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said in a clip accompanying Engel’s report. “We still have to touch the clothes of the person that’s coming in. Ultimately, Americans have got to be in danger to do these searches. There’s really no other way to do it.”
Two bombs detonated at two different locations, one not long after the other, during what appears to have been a coordinated attack aimed at U.S. forces. The first blast occurred as U.S. forces were patting down people at Abbey Gate; the second a couple of hundred yards away at the Baron Hotel. In all, 95 Afghans were also killed in the attacks.
At one point, ISIS-K gunmen opened fire on the crowds as well. Reports said they were engaged by U.S. troops.
The Biden administration and, in particular, President Joe Biden himself, have been widely criticized for the attack as well as the chaotic manner in which the withdrawal began earlier this month.
In an interview Thursday evening with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Jesse Kelly, host of The First TV’s “I’m Right” program, blasted U.S. leaders and accused them of considering the “political” implications of what happened Thursday rather than what’s best for the country and the American people.
“Politics. No patriotism at all, no love of country at all. This is all politics, Tucker. That’s why I’m is full of hate and rage right now as I have been probably since 9/11,” Kelly said.
“And I know for a fact the scumbags in the White House who run this country, they are sitting around a table as we speak, and they are not worried about Mommy, they’re not worried about Daddy, they’re not worried about that kid, they haven’t shed a single tear for anybody, they’re worried about poll numbers: They are worried what polls well – how are we doing with middle-aged women and how do you think we did with black people tonight?” Kelly, himself a former Marine and combat vet, railed.
Following a press conference by Biden, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki talked to reporters as well, telling one that it was the “view” of the administration that the U.S. continued to maintain significant “leverage” over the Taliban, a comment which was widely mocked on social media.
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