The Biden administration is set to give the Taliban $64 million in supposed humanitarian aid.
Yet a group of Republican lawmakers seeks to learn if the payment is ransom for stranded Americans in Afghanistan and whether that might motivate other terrorists around the globe to snatch more Americans.
The lawmakers expressed their concerns in a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Thursday. They note that the administration’s hasty pullout from Afghanistan left hundreds of U.S. citizens and several thousand lawful, permanent residents of the U.S. “at the mercy of the Taliban.”
“It is unacceptable that any American citizen or lawful permanent resident wanting to leave Afghanistan be stranded under Taliban control,” the letter states.
But now with the State Department, and not the Pentagon, in charge of the evacuation effort, the mission “essentially means that securing the release of American citizens relies on a strategy of negotiation with and offering concessions to a terrorist organization with the blood of thousands of Americans on their hands,” the letter continues.
The lawmakers say they need answers because the administration has not provided Congress a plan that details how Americans won’t be stranded in Afghanistan.
But they also worry that a ransom payment, “whether marketed as humanitarian assistance or sanctions relief,” will not only provide the Taliban resources to attack the U.S. or its allies, but also “will only further place Americans in harm’s way by incentivizing the Taliban, and other terrorist groups, to kidnap more Americans.”
The lawmakers want Blinken to answer whether America offered the alleged aid, or if the Taliban demanded it, as a condition for the “safe passage” of those Americans still in Afghanistan out of the country. They also want the documents that support Blinken’s reply.
“We are committed to holding accountable the decision makers who left Americans in danger,” says the letter, which was signed by 21 GOP members of Congress, who included Florida Reps. Bill Posey, Michael Waltz and Greg Steube.
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