The Price of Incompetence: State Department Says 'Dozens' of Americans Still Stuck in Afghanistan

AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

Last fall, the Biden State Department kept insisting that all Americans who wanted to get out of Afghanistan were able to leave. Then, as several planeloads of Americans left Afghanistan after that statement was made, we were told every U.S. citizen who wanted to get out of Afghanistan was offered help with leaving.

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Now we’re told that there are dozens of Americans still in Afghanistan who appear to be held hostage by the Taliban even though the word “hostage” hasn’t been used.

Today, two of those American hostages were released.

CNN:

The Biden administration on Friday secured the release of Safi Rauf, 27, an Afghan-American Naval reservist who was doing humanitarian work in Kabul and who had been in captivity under the Taliban since December.

Rauf and his brothers, all former Afghan refugees, founded the Human First Coalition, which, along with others in the “Digital Dunkirk” movement, worked to evacuate those desperately trying to flee after Kabul fell. The organization’s work soon turned to humanitarian aid for Afghans, and Rauf put medical school on hold to go to Kabul to try to provide crucially needed aid.

Rauf and his brother Anees Khalil were captured by the Taliban in December. The date is significant because it was in December that the Taliban began making nice with the international community in a bid to wangle humanitarian aid. It’s perfectly in keeping with Taliban strategy to talk peace while seizing negotiating assets like hostages.

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“Safiullah Rauf and Anees Khalil were released after being unjustly detained in Afghanistan,” Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, said Friday. “They are now in Qatar before traveling home. We are grateful for the efforts of all those who worked to secure their release but more work remains. Unjustly holding Americans captive is always unacceptable, and we will not stop until every American who is being unjustly held against their will is able to hug their families once again.”

It’s unclear what the administration gave up to get the brothers released. From what we know about the Taliban, weapons and cash were probably part of the deal. But why isn’t the media all over this story demanding to know why dozens of Americans were left behind in Afghanistan after the bug-out?

The release of the Rauf bothers comes as the Taliban continues to seek recognition as Afghanistan’s legitimate government from the United States and other Western nations. Since sweeping back into power in August 2021 as the Biden administration withdrew all US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has detained at least eight Westerners, CNN reported in February, including the Rauf brothers.

During the US withdrawal, they worked alongside the Taliban amid a chaotic evacuation of foreigners and Afghans from Kabul. Since then, US officials have been in regular communication, but there are still dozens of Americans in Afghanistan who have wanted to leave the country but have been unable to because there have not been regular evacuation flights.

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This is the price of incompetent, cowardly leadership refusing to own up to their errors. We should hope that if the GOP gains control of Congress, this entire, sorry debacle will be thoroughly investigated.

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