Report: CIA Built Escape Gate Near Kabul Airport for V.I.P. Evacuees
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) allegedly used a secret escape gate near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport to help high-priority evacuees gain entry to the airport and flee Kabul as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Wednesday.
The U.S. intelligence agency used the gate “to smuggle out priority cases for the CIA, including intelligence assets, local agents and their families and a list of high-importance cases sent from the White House,” WSJ revealed on October 6.
The CIA constructed the secret passageway roughly two miles away from the heart of Kabul’s airport “along the northern perimeter of the airfield,” according to the newspaper.
The gate stood opposite a gas station and was operated by the CIA and U.S. Delta Force operatives. The secret path was guarded by a “C.I.A.-trained Afghan paramilitary unit known as 02, who evacuated alongside the Americans in the final flights,” WSJ detailed.
The CIA and its allies used code names to refer to the portal, including “Glory Gate” and “Liberty Gate,” according to the newspaper.
“The makeshift entrance was created out of Hesco barriers, barbed wire and concrete blast walls that were moved by forklift to provide a layer of protection to the operatives at the entrance,” WSJ noted.
Afghan refugees board a bus after arriving at Dulles International Airport on August 27, 2021 in Dulles, Virginia after being evacuated from Kabul following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
The newspaper cited accounts provided by “current and former U.S. officials, along with nonprofits involved in evacuation efforts” as its sources for descriptions of the gate and its alleged use by CIA operatives. WSJ said it asked both the U.S. State Department and the CIA for comment on the airport gate but both entities declined to discuss the matter.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 after ousting Kabul’s U.S.-backed government. The action prompted a mass evacuation from the Afghan capital, with thousands of people mobbing the city’s only international airport in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban’s impending rule.
The hardline Sunni group, which previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, attempted to hamper evacuations at Kabul’s airport by blocking the site’s entrances and exits. Some Taliban members attacked people gathered outside the airport as they waited, often in vain, to enter the airfield.
At least 20 people died in either stampedes or Taliban attacks while trapped inside the human chokeholds surrounding the airport. A suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International killed over 100 people on August 26, including 13 U.S. military personnel. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terror attack.