(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
JENNIE TAER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER August 23, 2021
A team coordinating privately chartered flights out of Afghanistan exclusively told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they’ve received no support from the Biden administration in trying to get Americans and vulnerable Afghans out of the country and that it’s been an ‘impediment’ to their efforts.
- Former Republican Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor described the lack of support from the administration as “frustrating” and “a massive fuck up.”
- Robert Stryk and Taylor are leading the effort and have received thousands of requests from those desperate to escape Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has been an “impediment” to a private effort to get people out of Afghanistan, Robert Stryk, who is arranging privately chartered flights to get Americans and vulnerable Afghans out of the country, exclusively told the Daily Caller News Foundation Monday.
“The Brits and South Africans have been fucking awesome and heroic in getting people through the Mil Gate,” Stryk told the DCNF.
Stryk, whose Washington-based lobbying firm was in 2017 paid by the government of Afghanistan for “US Government affairs and commercial sector advice. Executive Branch and Legislative Branch Engagement; Defense consultation; strategic advice pertaining to extremism/terrorism; and promotion of democracy and foreign direct investment,” said he had reached out to the administration “dozens and dozens” of times and had yet to hear back.
After reaching out to the White House, Stryk said he received a response acknowledging the request but got no follow up. Stryk said he started reaching out to the administration on Aug. 14.
“What I am witnessing everyday is the very best and the very worst of America,” Stryk explained. “I have seen the humanity of private citizens who are contacting me and pledging their time, monies, and in some cases their lives to bring our citizens and these Afghan patriots out of harm’s way, while at the time personally experiencing the Biden administration’s abject failure to protect its citizens and those Afghans that fought and worked alongside of us.”
“It’s morally reprehensible,” Stryk said. “It’s been the U.S. private sector who has stepped in to save the blood and treasure the Biden administration is leaving behind.”
Former Republican Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor, who served 8 years as a Navy SEAL, joined Stryk in coordinating the private evacuations from Kabul. He said they’ve received thousands of requests from people trying to get out of Afghanistan.
Taylor also echoed Stryk’s frustrations with the administration. “The South Africans, the Brits, the Qataris, their ambassadors have been getting safe passage for people to the airport,” Taylor told the DCNF, describing the lack of support from the administration as “frustrating” and “a massive fuck up.”“I can’t get ahold of anybody,” Taylor said.He added, “I understand that our country may be trying to control everything or maintain it, but in doing so, they’re impeding things.”“And people are desperate and people are gonna die. People will die the longer this goes out, it’s just gonna happen,” he said.Taylor said that he has received many requests from private donors wanting to help fund the flights and had offers from flight attendants wanting to staff the planes. (RELATED: Evacuation Flights From Afghanistan Are Reportedly Leaving Below Full Capacity)
“There are so many people that want to help and honestly, I’m very proud of the response of people who want to do anything,” he said.
Regulus Global, which specializes in medical, humanitarian and national security missions, is supporting Stryk’s and Taylor’s effort with a database it created to track passenger visa and passport information.
“We’re not waiting for the Biden administration to do that, we’re doing it ourselves,” Stryk said.
The private flights are partially funded, charging some passengers the equivalent or less than the cost of a commercial airline flight, Stryk said.
The Biden administration had informed Americans that they could possibly pay upwards of $2,000 for an evacuation flight out of Afghanistan. The State Department later backtracked on that, telling the DCNF it will “no longer” charge Americans for the evacuation flights, but didn’t say if it will refund those already charged.
The difficulty for evacuees, however, is mainly the process of getting to Hamid Karzai airport, which is surrounded by chaotic crowds and Taliban checkpoints. The State Department said on Aug. 18 that safe passage into the airport for Americans was dependent on the Taliban.
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan that same day issued a security alert stating that the U.S. government couldn’t “ensure safe passage.”
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that if the Taliban get in the way of safe passage, then the U.S. “will deliver a swift and forceful response.” A day earlier, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul instructed Americans not to go to the Kabul Airport without “individual instructions from a U.S. government representative,” due to possible “security threats.”
Sullivan said at a Monday press briefing that over 37,000 people have been evacuated from the Kabul airport since Aug. 14, including American citizens, foreign nationals, allies and vulnerable Afghans.
Sullivan also addressed concerns as to why the administration cannot provide an exact number of Americans remaining in Afghanistan.
“When Americans have come to Afghanistan over the years, we asked them to register with the embassy,” Sullivan said. “Many have left without deregistering, others never registered at all, that is their right of course and it’s our responsibility to find them, which we are now doing hour by hour.”
He continued, “In the days remaining, we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul.”
The White House maintains the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.
Since Sunday Sullivan said that 28 U.S. Military flights have evacuated around 10,400 people and that 61 coalition flights have evacuated 5,900 people.
The Department of Defense referred the DCNF to the Department of State, which “off the record” referred us to the Department of Defense. The White House didn’t respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.