US warns Americans to stay away from the Kabul airport after ISIS threats

Afghans run away from Taliban fighters on airport road in Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghans run away from Taliban fighters at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
  • The US has warned Americans in Afghanistan to stay away from the airport in Kabul.
  • Officials reportedly believe the Islamic State group could launch an attack.
  • A security alert warned of “potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport.”

US officials have warned American citizens in Afghanistan to stay away from the Kabul airport due to threats from the Islamic State group, multiple media outlets reported on Saturday.

The US Embassy in Afghanistan issued a security alert flagging “potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport.”

“We are advising US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a US government representative to do so,” the alert said.

Media outlets, citing unnamed US officials, reported that the main threat was coming from ISIS’s Afghanistan branch.

US officials believe ISIS could launch an attack that would simultaneously harm Americans, and bruise the Taliban’s sense of control, The New York Times reported. The Times added that it was unclear whether ISIS was capable of such an attack.

The warnings come just one day after President Joe Biden promised that “any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.” He said more than 18,000 people have been evacuated since last month.

The new threats have frustrated American efforts to get evacuees to the Hamid Karzai International Airport and out of the country.

One official told the Associated Press that small groups of Americans will receive specific instructions on how to evacuate – namely, how to move to transit points where the military can greet them.

The Associated Press reported that the specifics of the ISIS threat were unclear, but officials described the threat as significant.

The scene around the airport Saturday morning was chaotic and desperate. Thousands – including children – were seen on video in a crushing crowd outside the airport gates, some pressed up against a barbed-wire fence.

The Associated Press reported that evacuations continued on Saturday, but the chaos meant that the flights had to depart before they were full.