KEY POINTS

  • The “kill list” has raised serious concern among lawmakers
  • Biden did not deny or directly confirm the existence of a supposed list
  • The U.S. has relied on the Taliban for safe passage of American citizens into Kabul airport
  • A U.S. official said the administration had no choice but to depend on the Taliban 
  • The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the latest Kabul bombing

The United States is racing against time to evacuate stranded U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans out of the country, but the process may have involved handing over a list of names to the Taliban that could pose serious danger to the lives of Afghans who aided the American military in the past.

Politico revealed in a report Thursday that the U.S. handed a list with the names of American citizens and Afghan allies to the Taliban. The report cited three American officials who spoke to the outlet on condition of anonymity. One defense official said the move was like placing “all those Afghans on a kill list.” The official added that “it’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”

Providing specific names to the militant group has become a controversial issue among lawmakers. Some lawmakers and military officials raised concerns about the practice, citing the Taliban’s history of executing Afghans found to have been cooperating with U.S. forces and other coalition troops.

The Biden administration has had to depend on the Taliban to ensure safe passage of American citizens and at-risk Afghans since Kabul was seized by the terror outfit earlier this month. A U.S. official said the administration “had to do that because of the security situation the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport.”

President Joe Biden neither denied nor directly admitted that there was indeed a list of names handed out to the extremists. “There have been occasions where our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this bus is coming through … made up of the following group … let it through. Yes, there have been occasions like that,” Biden said, Fox News reported.

“I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names,” the president clarified. “There may have been. But I know of no circumstance,” he said. Biden added that in cases wherein buses were requested to be let through Taliban checkpoints, “the bulk of that has occurred,” implying that most of the people requested by the U.S. to be let through were allowed to cross the checkpoints.

Retribution against Afghans who worked with the U.S. military has been a major concern following the pullout of American troops from Afghanistan. Fears of retribution and the safety of vulnerable Afghans came starkly into focus Thursday, after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of civilians outside the gates of the Kabul airport.

Kabul health officials were reportedly quoted as saying that around 60 civilians were among the casualties of the suicide bombing. The Islamic State took responsibility for the bombing, noting that the target was “translators and collaborators with the American army.” Biden has vowed retribution for the latest bombing. “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.

Over 80,000 people have been evacuated since August 14, but huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression in Taliban-led Afghanistan. Over 80,000 people have been evacuated since August 14, but huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression in Taliban-led Afghanistan. Photo: US AIR FORCE / Donald R. ALLEN