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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Evacuation from Afghanistan. Data left behind by UK associates, US list of Taliban names – media reports

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When leaving the building of the British Embassy in Kabul, staff left documents with details of Afghans working for it and CVs of applicants, The Times wrote on Friday. Some of the people whose details were on the file are still in Afghanistan, according to the newspaper. The Politico website described a case of the Taliban handing over by the Americans a list with the names of Afghans cooperating with Western countries, which was supposed to make it easier for these people to get to the airport. President Joe Biden commented on these reports on Thursday.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans who have cooperated with the military and Western diplomacy from the capital of the country, Kabul, has been carried out. Meanwhile, The Times in Friday’s edition reported that staff at the British Embassy in Kabul had left documents in the building with the details of Afghan collaborators. Documents with contact details of seven Afghans were found scattered on the floor on Tuesday by a correspondent from The Times who accompanied Taliban fighters as they patrolled the grounds of the abandoned embassy.

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The documents contained the name and address of a leading staff member in the Kabul embassy, ​​the names of other staff members and their contact details, and the CVs and addresses of applicants for translation jobs. Calls made by a correspondent for The Times to the numbers on these documents show that while some of these people were evacuated to Britain in the last few days, other embassy staff remained on the scene. Among those trapped in the crowd, unable to get to the airport from where they could be evacuated, were three Afghan workers and eight members of their families, including five children.

British soldiers in Kabul. They will help evacuate the diplomatsMOD / CROWN

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Documents with data in an abandoned British embassy

According to the newspaper, the British were so surprised at the speed of the conquest of Kabul that the embassy’s evacuation protocols apparently collapsed, requiring the destruction of all data that could endanger Afghan workers, their families or potential employees.

The Times quoted – without revealing personal details – an excerpt from the cover letter of one of the translators applying for the British Embassy. As he emphasized, the professional experience mentioned by him – working as a translator for American troops in the Helmand province – which was supposed to be an advantage, in the face of the carelessness of the embassy staff, could cost him his life.

The newspaper reported that, prior to the disclosure of the find, it had contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, providing personal details from the documents, to enable them to be found and evacuated. However, he says, the fate of at least two applicants for the position of translators, whose contact details were left scattered on the embassy premises, remains unknown.

The Taliban took power in AfghanistanPAP / EPA / STRINGER

The Times recalled that the discovery of the abandoned documents came just days after it became known that Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, while on leave, had not made a telephone conversation with his Afghan counterpart to assist with the evacuation of Afghan collaborators of British troops and assessed that this is another element of the unprofessional response of the British authorities to the crisis resulting from the Taliban’s seizure of power.

Politico on the American Taliban List of Surnames

The case of a similar incident was reported on Thursday by the Politico website. According to journalists, US officials in Kabul provided the Taliban with a list of the names of US citizens, green card holders and Afghans cooperating with Western countries. As three officials associated with the US authorities told the portal, the decision was to facilitate evacuation, allowing the people on the lists free access to the capital airport. Since the Taliban capture of Kabul in mid-August, nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan. Politico noted that most of them had to get through the Taliban checkpoint in Kabul first.

The decision to share the list of names with Taliban who, the portal noted, had brutally murdered people who collaborated with Western forces in the past, sparked criticism from US officials and military officials. “Basically, all these Afghans have been put on the kill list,” said Politico, one defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Evacuation from AfghanistanUS Central Command Public Affair / PAP / EPA

US President Joe Biden was asked about Politico’s reports at a press conference on Thursday. The American leader said he was not sure such lists existed, but admitted that similar situations could arise. – It happened that our military personnel contacted their counterparts in Taliban troops and said, for example: “there is such and such a bus, carrying X number of people, which consists of the following group of people. Biden explained, “So yes, there have been similar situations. To the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of them were let go,” he added.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn also replied to the accusations. She said it was an “unfortunate” act of journalists not to first ask the White House for comment on the matter. “If Politico asked us, we would give the same answer that the president shared with the nation today: that in limited cases, we shared data with the Taliban that successfully facilitated the evacuation from Kabul,” she added.

Main photo source: US Marine Corps / EPA / PAP



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