Officials received an intelligence tip that five people on board one of the commercial airline flights “intended to hijack the aircraft,” the Air Force said in a statement on Tuesday providing new information regarding the chaotic evacuation efforts in August.
“Our team worked to get them clear of the NATO ramp, relocated to the north side away from friendly forces, then ultimately onto the south side where the situation was handled,” Lt. Col. Brian Desautels, 71st Rescue Squadron and Personnel Recovery Task Force commander, said.
The statement did not provide additional details about when this took place or how it was resolved.
The first couple of days of the non-combatant evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport were chaotic as thousands of people rushed the runway while planes were trying to take off.
There was a viral video showing people trying to hold on to the outside of the planes as they went down the runway, though, “Not caught on video and less than a minute later, both HC-130J Combat King II took off on a sliver of remaining runway. With seconds to spare, they were airborne skimming just 10 feet above the crowd,” the Air Force said.
“I was able to contact the CFACC (Combined Forces Air Component Commander) and received authorization to take off from the taxiway, if needed,” Desautels added. “The strategic message: We would have a runway.”
The Department of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is currently reviewing the incident, which included videos purportedly showing people falling from planes after they took off in addition to the human remains that were discovered in the wheel well of a C-17 aircraft once it landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Monday that the investigation is ongoing.
More than a week later, on the evening of Aug. 26, the intelligence and military community’s fears of a possible terrorist attack at HKIA came to fruition.
A suicide bomber, Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri, detonated a device near Abbey Gate outside the airport where there were “over 10,000 people,” the Air Force added. “The terrorists then engaged with small arms fire.”
Thirteen U.S. service members lost their lives in the bombing, as did roughly 170 Afghan civilians, while 17 others received care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, before being transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
“There were lots of very badly injured people hurt … lots of blood,” Desautels explained. “The surgeons were worn out. Many died on the operating table.”
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Mike Brest