National Security & Defense

British Official Warns of ‘Imminent Attack’ at Kabul Airport

People wait outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 17, 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

The British military warned Wednesday night that Kabul airport may be the target of an ‘imminent attack’ intended to disrupt the massive evacuation being conducted by U.S. and allied forces.

James Heappey, Britain’s armed forces minister, told the BBC Thursday there was “very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” that could be directed at the airport, from which many flights have departed each day with thousands of refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

An anonymous senior U.S. official corroborated Heappey’s assessment to Fox News, adding that the risk factor calculation for an ISIS-K or similar group to perpetrate an attack with a vehicle bomb or suicide bomber has been “more likely than unlikely” for over the last 24 hours.

Other reports on the ground have warned that the terrorist organization could exploit the chaos in Afghanistan to launch an assault on the western forces conducting the pull-out.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented at a briefing Wednesday that the U.S. government believes 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan, 1,000 of whom are unaccounted for in terms of intentions to leave or stay. Five hundred are actively seeking to exit the country and have either contacted the U.S. government to secure passage or responded to the government’s evacuation notices.

Early Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, which was relocated to Kabul amid the Taliban’s takeover, advised Americans congregating by specific airport gates to clear the area immediately due to security threats. It also urged Americans not to travel to the Kabul airport.

“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the embassy statement said.

“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the warning said.

A number of western allies said they were pausing their airlift operations out of Afghanistan Thursday to allow the U.S time to prepare for the final withdrawal of military forces on August 31. Many Afghan interpreters and collaborators are still trapped in the country, facing again the specter of Taliban rule if they stay behind. Many roads have been blocked off by Taliban checkpoints as early as Thursday morning, preventing escapees from reaching the airport, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Everything is over,” a 30-year-old teacher who attempted to get to the airport told the newspaper. “They’re not letting anyone pass, not even those with foreign passports or visas.”

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