Security firms 'charging £5k' for safe passage to Kabul airport

Terrified Afghans who are cleared for evacuation to UK are STILL trapped in Kabul as local ‘security contractors’ demand £5,500 to get them to airport by paying off Taliban

  • UK defence sources say private security firms are charging for safe passage
  • The groups are reportedly charging $7,500 (£5,500) to get to Kabul airport
  • However most of cash is being spent on paying off Taliban, reports the Guardian
  • It comes as the UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace issued a new warning
  • He said Afghans may be better to head for the border rather than to the airport
  • Security officials fear a possible attack by the jihadist terrorist group ISIS-K

Desperate Britons and Afghans cleared for evacuation are reportedly paying private security firms more than £5,000 to help them escape the clutches of the Taliban, it has been reported.

The firms are reportedly charging $7,500 dollars (approximately £5,500) to give those willing to pay a safe passage past Taliban fighters and to Kabul airport.

But most of the money is actually being used to pay off the Taliban anyway, UK defence sources have told the Guardian.

It comes as yesterday Taliban officials announced a new edict banning Afghans from leaving the country.

Roadblocks and check points were set up across Kabul to prevent access to the airport where western forces are carrying out a rapid evacuation. 

It is believed the rescue mission could end within the next 36 hours. However, the US is now warning to those wishing to evacuate not to come to the airport amid security concerns.  

Meanwhile, the UK’s Defence Secretary last night warned some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out.

As evacuation efforts entered their final hours, Ben Wallace appeared to signal in a briefing to MPs that there are few places left on British planes. 

There is also an increased terror risk from jihadists ISIS-K, with US officials last night saying there was a ‘very real risk’ of an attack by the terror group.

The firms are reportedly charging $7,500 dollars (approximately £5,500) to give those willing to pay a safe passage past Taliban fighters and to Kabul airport. Pictured: Security personnel assist with evacuation of the people waiting outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan


Meanwhile, the UK’s Defence Secretary (pictured left: Ben Wallace)  last night warned some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out. Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured right) insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans

Questioned about what Afghans who have been offered student places or fellowships in the UK should do, he said: ‘If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option.’ 

Pressed by a Tory backbencher, Mr Wallace added: ‘I recommend that they try and make it to the border … because it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment.’

There was no suggestion however, that Afghans who have been told by western officials to travel to the airport for evacuation should alter that plan.

Meanwhile, troubling video today showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country via the Pakistan border.

The footage shows a huge crowd of people at Spin Boldak, a southern village on the border with Pakistan, queuing up at the border gates.

Troubling video today showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country via the Pakistan border. The footage shows a huge crowd of people at Spin Boldak, a southern village on the border with Pakistan, queuing up at the border gates

Meanwhile, crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday as the evacuation mission continues

Some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out, the Defence Secretary admitted last night. 

Hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul 

‘We’re leaving in 72 hours – it doesn’t matter who’s left on the ground,’ says former CIA agent

American civilians and Afghan allies have just 72 hours before evacuations from Kabul end, a former CIA officer and terrorism expert has claimed.

Sam Faddis, who served as the head of the Counter Terrorism Center’s Weapons of Mass Destruction unit, said sources in the Pentagon, military officers in Kabul and other former intelligence agency officers have told him that flights for civilians out of the Afghan capital will actually end in the next three days.

The alleged deadline has not been officially announced or verified, but raises fears that American citizens could be left behind in the Taliban-occupied city.

On Tuesday President Joe Biden confirmed that US forces will be leaving the country by August 31, a date agreed with the Taliban – but Faddis claims American civilians currently in the city have a far shorter deadline.

‘Biden decided we’re pulling out within 72 hours. We’re gone, and it doesn’t matter who’s left on the ground,’ the ex-CIA officer told DailyMail.com.

The frantic race to rescue the last 2,000 Afghan allies was underway last night as the Daily Mail learned all UK troops must leave Afghanistan by the weekend. 

Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans.

But the grim reality is that many hundreds – including heroic Afghan interpreters – will be left to the clutches of the Taliban after Tuesday’s deadline for international troops to leave. 

A US order that Britain must pull out its 1,000 soldiers and officials before the US begins its withdrawal has reduced the time available to process the final claims.

US commanders have also insisted on ‘two to three days’ to conduct a unilateral extraction of their 6,000-strong force, meaning the last UK troops are expected to fly out on Sunday.

The order came as the Taliban further tightened its grip on the airport, using checkpoints to block anyone not holding the necessary paperwork and demanding bribes from those who did.

Afghans and foreign citizens suffered beatings. Video footage showed an Australian with blood streaming down his face from a head wound after he was confronted by Taliban guards.

There were estimated to be 10,000 Afghans crammed outside the gates to the airport. 

UK commander Brigadier Dan Blanchford said they faced ‘harrowing and extreme conditions’. 

Meanwhile, the US last night issued an order for those evacuating not to come to the airport, due to a security risk.

The order, to US citizens, urged them not to come to the airport gates unless the receive ‘individual instructions’ to do so.

Those at three of the gates, Abbey, East and North, were also told to leave ‘immediately’. The UK also issued similar warnings yesterday.

Since the start of the operation, the RAF has flown out 11,474 people, including almost 7,000 vulnerable Afghans. 

It has evacuated more than 2,500 UK nationals, 341 British Embassy officials and around 1,000 nationals from 38 nations.

The figure of 2,000 awaiting rescue could rise, with the last freedom flight possibly tomorrow.

Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans. In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster

There were estimated to be 10,000 Afghans crammed outside the gates to the airport. UK commander Brigadier Dan Blanchford said they faced ‘harrowing and extreme conditions’. Pictured: Afghans line up outside a bank to take out cash as people keep waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport

Raab denies he was ‘lounging around’ on holiday while Kabul fell 

Dominic Raab today denied he was ‘lounging around on the beach’ while Kabul fell as he defended his delayed return to the UK from a luxury break at a five-star resort in Crete.  

The Foreign Secretary arrived home on the evening of Sunday August 15 after he opted to work remotely as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated. 

Mr Raab said he was ‘engaged from a hotel room, my family was on the beach, not me’ and that he ‘checked in on them episodically’. 

The Tory frontbencher said ‘the stuff about me being lounging around on the beach all day is just nonsense’ as he insisted the ‘sea was actually closed, it was a red notice’.      

Mr Raab remains under pressure to quit over his handling of the crisis and this morning he admitted that ‘with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have gone away’.  

There are ‘special cases’ still to be processed – Afghans to be offered sanctuary in the UK due to the likelihood they will be targeted by the Taliban.

British troops face an increased threat of a terrorist attack from jihadis.

At the airport, a young Afghan woman told the BBC that Taliban forces were treating the crowds of waiting civilians ‘like animals’. 

Before she boarded a flight, she said: ‘Today after three days, I finally got into the airport and I have my flight. It took us 18 hours to get through one of the gates .

‘The airport is completely surrounded by Taliban forces and they’re being as brutal as they can to the people. They’re shooting at people, they’re beating people.

‘I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I’m travelling to a safer country – anything right now is better than being in a country led by the Taliban. 

‘On the other, I’m leaving behind everything – my life, my work, my dreams, my hopes. I really desperately want to one day come back to Kabul and see Kabul free of the Taliban.’ 

Amid the horror, there was also humanity. A British officer described looking after a baby girl after she child became separated from her mother in the crush.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Caesar of 16 Medical Regiment, said: ‘We took her for a walk around our hospital, managed to burp her a few times. She seemed to settle.

‘One of the challenges in this sort of environment is never really knowing who is going to come through the door. We have to be prepared for every eventuality.

‘Fortunately as a recent father myself I have a bit of experience in dealing with small children. She was later reunited with her mother before being evacuated.’ 

A heart-breaking announcement for those who remain is expected ‘imminently’, according to political sources. The crowds are expected to be told, perhaps today, that evacuations for civilians are no longer possible.

At the airport, a young Afghan woman told the BBC that Taliban forces were treating the crowds of waiting civilians ‘like animals’. Before she boarded a flight, she said: ‘Today after three days, I finally got into the airport and I have my flight. It took us 18 hours to get through one of the gates.’ Pictured: A C-17 Globemaster lll lands on the runway as evacuees from Afghanistan debark a C-17 Globemaster

Two paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conduct security while a C-130 Hercules takes off during a evacuation operation in Kabul

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said: ‘We are down to the last hours. 

‘It is vital we communicate with those waiting outside the airport to prevent panic and loss of life, confirming what has happened.

They will have to be told, sadly, that no more evacuation flights are possible ahead of the August 31 deadline and that, as from then, only military withdrawal flights will be taking off.’

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