Rubio: U.S. list given to Taliban is a tool for ‘revenge killings’

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In a Friday letter to President Biden, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said that handing over the names of American citizens and Afghan allies to the Taliban was gifting them a “powerful tool in their ongoing ‘revenge killings’.”

“Regardless of the assurances your administration may have received from the Taliban, your decision to believe them was nothing less than irresponsible and naïve,” he said. 

Rubio’s letter followed confirmation by authorities Thursday that the U.S. provided the identities of Americans and at-risk Afghans so they could gain access past Taliban checkpoints outside the Kabul airport.   

“This decision blatantly ignored credible reports that the Taliban was directly targeting Afghan individuals that supported American troops,” he said.

The senator pointed to the abduction and execution of comedian Khasha Zwan by the Taliban nearly a month prior to the collapse of Afghanistan. 

The U.S. embassy further reported the suspected revenge killings of 40 individuals in early August.

Just two days after the Taliban took over Kabul and mass evacuations began, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that amnesty would be granted to Afghan citizens who were loyal to the U.S. during the 20-year long War in Afghanistan. 

Mujahid said Afghans who wanted to evacuate would be allowed to do so and Taliban insurgents would not go door-to-door to hunt them down.

But within a week, reports surfaced of renewed attacks and some individuals have been barred from gaining access to the airport. 

Mujahid additionally said this week that Afghan nationals will no longer be allowed to leave the country after U.S. forces depart on Aug. 31. 

“At the height of the evacuation, personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul destroyed passports and visa applications in their possession precisely so that they would not be used by the Taliban,” Rubio pointed out. “This action has endangered Americans, and our allies, who have been unable to leave Afghanistan and seriously calls into question your administration’s decision making.”

The senator said he will refuse the appointment of any nominee for a national security position until the president gives answers on who provided the Taliban with names.

Rubio asked whether the administration has warned the individuals whose names were on the list that they are now facing “significant personal threat” and questioned whether they have all been “safely evacuated.”

Additionally, he asked if the president would commit to ensuring that those individuals are rescued if they have not yet been evacuated. 

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