June 6, 2023

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Republican Report Says US Adversaries Could Exploit Ex-Afghan Commandos

Republican Report Says US Adversaries Could Exploit Ex-Afghan Commandos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers said on Sunday that former Afghan security personnel with sensitive knowledge of U.S. operations left over from the U.S. evacuation are vulnerable to recruitment or coercion by Russia, China and Iran, citing the administration of President Joe Biden. He failed to prioritize their evacuation.

“This is especially true given reports that some Afghan former military personnel have fled to Iran,” the Republican minority of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report marking the first anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.

The report said the Biden administration failed to prioritize the evacuation of Afghan commandos trained by the United States and other elite units in the process of withdrawing and evacuating US forces at Kabul International Airport from August 14-30, 2021.

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Thirteen American soldiers were killed and hundreds of American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans were left at risk during the operation.

The administration called the operation an “exceptional success” that moved more than 124,000 Americans and Afghans to safety and ended in an “endless war” in which some 3,500 American and allied soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans, were killed.

But hundreds of US-trained commandos and other former security personnel and their families remain in Afghanistan amid reports that the Taliban have killed and tortured former Afghan officials, allegations the militants deny.

The Republican report said these former employees “could be recruited or coerced to work for one of America’s adversaries who maintain a presence in Afghanistan, including Russia, China or Iran.”

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She described this possibility as a “major national security risk” because these Afghans “know the tactics, methods, and procedures of the US military and intelligence.”

Some US officials and experts say Biden sought to move out of Afghanistan without properly assessing the lessons of the war and without accountability for the chaotic evacuation. Read more

The Republican report linked new details of the extraction process to congressional testimony, military and news reports to show how the administration went beyond the advice of American leaders, failed to plan adequately and ignored Taliban violations of the 2020 withdrawal agreement.

In another discovery, he said, the administration waited even hours before the Taliban captured Kabul to make major evacuation decisions.

The report stated that it included a request that other countries host transit centers for thousands of evacuees who worked for the US government during the 20-year US intervention, and others who are at risk of Taliban retaliation.

“Not much has been done to prepare for the Taliban takeover of the country” or for the evacuation, she said.

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(Reporting by Jonathan Landay) Editing by David Gregorio

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