Afghan evacuees chartered plane stranded at Abu Dhabi airport | Taliban news
U.S. authorities have denied permission to land on a charter flight carrying 117 U.S. citizens and Afghan evacuees now stranded in safety at Abu Dhabi International Airport, an organizer of the flight said.
The evacuee group are all U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents or special immigrant visa applicants, including 59 children under the age of 18, said Stan Bunner, a lawyer in Naples, Fla. And a former veteran of the American army.
“Why these American citizens cannot return to the United States and why they are stranded at this airport is beyond me,” Bunner told Al Jazeera.
The US Customs and Border Patrol has repeatedly denied the plane permission to enter the United States, said Bunner who is part of an ad hoc group of US veterans called Project Dynamo who’s is trained to help Afghans out after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
The Project Dynamo effort is emblematic of the confusion and chaos that plagued the U.S. effort to get U.S. citizens and Afghan allies out of the country. In August, US military and allied planes airlifted around 120,000 people from Kabul International Airport.
“In the past 72 hours, we have been able to secure all of our people in Kabul. We were able to secure our contract with the carrier. I think we were the first to get the Taliban’s permission to leave, ”Bunner said.
“There was one last little snag because the plane we had chartered was refused permission to fly over Iraq by the US government,” he said.
Organizers chartered another plane from Kam Air, a private Afghan airline. “We had a new plane on the ground, filled it, left Afghanistan for Abu Dhabi.”
Leaving Kabul, the organizers of Project Dynamo believed they had full landing clearance in the United States for a second flight, but by the time the plane arrived in Abu Dhabi, they were informed that the The plane would not be allowed to enter the United States.
“The first rationale was that there was no procedure by which American citizens could return to the United States on a charter flight, which we did not understand,” Bunner said.
Evacuees on the flight from Kabul included 26 U.S. citizens, 83 permanent residents (green card holders) and six special immigrant visa applicants, Bunner said. Two additional passengers were the American organizers of the flight.
A second objection raised by US officials concerned a measles outbreak. Organizers confirmed that all passengers had been vaccinated against measles and negative COVID tests, Bunner said.
Organizers have taken the issue to the offices of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, senior Department of Homeland Security officials and members of Congress, he said.
A DHS spokesperson told Al Jazeera that all passenger manifests on flights to the United States “should be checked prior to departure to the United States to ensure that all passengers are properly screened. “.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have a processing station at Abu Dhabi Airport that should be able to process passengers on the charter flight, Bunner said.
Meanwhile, the flight’s organizers have requested entry to several international airports on the US east coast, he said.
“Staff at our Embassy in the UAE have worked tirelessly to verify the accuracy of the passenger manifesto and coordinate with DHS / Customs and Border Protection on the ground to ensure passengers are vetted and checked before being allowed to travel to the United States, ”a State Department communications official told Al Jazeera.
“We expect passengers to continue their journey tomorrow morning,” the State Department official said.
Members of the US Congress questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and senior US generals about the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and continued efforts to force the Americans and their Afghan allies out of the country.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said on Tuesday he was “deeply frustrated, even furious” at the Biden administration’s continued delays in getting the remaining Americans out of Afghanistan.
Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley conceded that the United States was surprised by the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Kabul. During a hearing in the US Senate on September 28, Milley called the US withdrawal a “strategic failure.”