tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN August 26, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT
commander on the scene to get his act together in terms of how to flow out. >> yeah. first and foremost, what exactly happened is the threat past? and who and how many people are injured in all of this? thank you, general. i'm kate bolduan. thank you for being with us. for our continuing coverage out of afghanistan, anderson cooper picks up right now. hello to our viewers in the united states and around the world. the major breaking news this hour, terror in kabul. a pair of explosions and gunfire. part of what the pentagon describings as a complex attack. an ngo on the ground said 60 patients were rushed to the hospital. six dead on arrival. this is what we know about the attack right now. we should point out these are very early reports, and
obviously this is a very chaotic situation, and a lot of different sources of information coming at us a. so we want to be very clear about what we know and what we do not know. one suicide bomber from the latest reports, detonated on the perimeter of the airport. there was another explosion at the barren hotel which is a short distance from that same airport gate. we want to warn you, some of the pictures you're going to see are graphic. the chaos happened as we're showing you, bloodied afghans wheeling the wounded through the streets. the pentagon says there are an unknown number of casualties, both americans and after begans. as you may remember, officials had been warning for days about potential of an attack saying all americans at the airport yesterday should leave the area if they weren't already behind the dwaets. defense officials threatened more attacks may be coming. white house officials tell cnn the president has been
monitoring the aftermath from the situation room alongside the defense secretary and joint chief chairman. cnn is deployed at the moment. we want to start with sam kylie in qatar just outside the gate a day ago at the airport. sam, let's talk about the latest on this. what is the latest you're hearing? >> well, anderson, as you say, it's been a complex attack. two explosions. one on the abbey gate or close to the abbey gate on a road that is bounded on both sides by blast walls and at some stages of it, a sewage canal. it's not clear whether the bomb or device was on the canal or inside that concentrated area. and then the second blast just outside they're saying the baron hotel. it had until recently been the central operations space for british troops based there. that was a clearing area for
people to get in to the main airfield inside the abbey gate. now, in the last few days people have been gathering there in enormous numbers. even though there have been these persistent warnings that were intensified last night with messages going out from the u.s., british, australian, other governments saying to their citizens, please get away from any kind of airport gate, because we have active intelligence of an ongoing isis plot specifically to target crowds outside of the airport, and then we hear, we see what is unfolded. if you go back to last sunday, it's clear there has been a lot of preparation going into this terrorist group in all probability, isis-k to conduct this. that's sunday there was a sniper attack on afghan guards guarding the airport primter that killed one and resulted in an accidental fire fight. that's a typical isis probing attack to see what's called ttp.
the normal training response of the different units to see where vulnerabilities might lie. in this case, there are reports of two explosions and gunfire in what the pentagon are calling a complex attack with emergency hospital in downtown kabul saying they got 60 people wounded, six arrived or died on arrival. and i think judging by what we've seen on social media and a lot of the images are too graphic to show, obviously, i think the afghan casualties are likely to rise. on the american side, we've simply got a confirmation that there have been american casualties. >> it's not uncommon -- first, you talked about the two locations close to the abbey gate and outside the baron hotel. what is the distance between those two locations? >> effectively a stone's throw. they're kind of all the same area, really. there's the abbey gate. then there's a stretch of road
bounded by blast walls and then there's an entrance into the baron which historically have been secure, almost bounded within the secure perimeter of the main airport. that's why the british used it as a forward operating base as part of their efforts to get evacuees through. it was easier, slightly easier to get for afghans to the baron gates, sometimes for foreign nationals. they even had a secret entrance being used to exfiltrate a lot of foreign nationals with the help of british special forces around the back. it was a central part of the evacuation. it was a central part of the british parachute regiment, air assault brigade there in force. i saw them in the airport yesterday. the british numbers in the airport going up. that indicated they were winding down their operations there. there's been no reports of british casualties. that's striking. there's a gap.
you go from one gate to the other through a sort of area of no man's land, in all project, that's where the second blast may have occurred. it's also very close to where the first blast is confirmed to have occurred. that's being described by the pentagon as at or near the abbey gate. anderson, very intense area for afghans trying to get into the airport. one of the main focuses. and in the last few days possibly the greatest focus, the greatest concentration of people there. therefore, presenting the greatest possible opportunity for the isis-k or other terrorist group to create this sort of carnage they have been intent on doing in trying to embarrass the taliban and the united states. >> isis has been able to strike at will in kabul for some time, but there are any number of groups this could possibly be. again, this is very early regardless of who claims credit early on. there are so many different
groups operating in afghanistan. it can often be difficult to really ascertain particularly in these early hours. >> it can. in a nutshell you have al qaeda which has historically conducted attacks inside the kidnapping role. they've been aligned with a network that is sort of a self-owned organism that's part of the taliban. the military commander of the taliban is a hakani themselves. they are notorious for attacks inside kabul, and kabul is their area of operations. it's them supplying areas of security. it's on them if a suicide bomber or any kind of terrorist has got through that cordon. this is a cordon they've been using to keep afghans off airplanes but not it would appear terrorists from getting through. to be fair, this is a porous
environment, difficult to control. but clearly, a lapse to say the least from the taliban, and then you've got the so-called islamic state group. they are universally hated even by the islamists in afghanistan. the taliban have been dedicated to trying to completely exterminate them. particularly because isis came into afghanistan and started to attack taliban people and produce those gross murder videos they were famous for in syria. murdering taliban. and equally al qaeda, no great fans of isis either. there has been some speculation that it's conceivable that an isis group might have been used as a cutout for an errant element of the taliban to conduct this sort of an operation. that's not beyond the realms of possibility. the reality in afghanistan and the reality of the taliban is that it is hydroheaded. there are many different elements and many different elements of it with very different ideologies.
>> yeah. it is a chaotic situation to say the least. we'll continue to come back to you. i want to check in with our barbara who is at the pentagon. what's the latest? >> well, anderson, we are being told by a number of officials that they do believe there are a number of u.s. personnel who are wounded. not getting the word whether they're military or civilians but u.s. military at the airport. we're aware u.s. military and government families along with afghan families are watching this carefully to get word of their loved ones. we're going to be very cautious about this and say all we know is that u.s. officials are telling us a number of u.s. personnel wounded. the key question is how badly. can they be treated on site? do they need to be med vacced out to trauma facilities or a hospital in germany?
and as you said off the top, u.s. officials are very concerned there may be, in fact, more attacks to come. that means the u.s. troops who are there, the afghans who are there on the airfield, their number one priority will be to look after everyone's security. try and keep the air flow of planes landing, filling them up, taking off again. there's just over 5,000 troops we believe, u.s. troops left on the airfield. the time is winding down. next tuesday we're getting to the point of counting down the hours. the key issue is maintaining security until they can get everyone out by that tdeadline. >> is there -- has the pentagon said there will be a press conference? any kind of questions can be answered? >> you know, we came to work this morning expecting one of those pressers around 10:30 this morning. then this happened. it has been put off. we are expecting some public
word later this afternoon. but at this point, we'll have to see. i'm sure they're waiting to see if president biden decides to address the nation. >> and barbara, there's no telling at this point how many people might have been outside that gate at this time. yesterday the u.s. put out the embassy based at the airport. instructed any american outside the blast walls trying to get into the airport to leave the area because of a specific threat. this seemed a prior concern about what might happen. it's not noechb how many people might have been outside at the time of the blast. >> not known for sure. clearly as we've seen from the reports, there were an awful lot of afghans out there. people still desperate to get out of the country. they had been gathering. on the question of americans, we don't know at this point.
americans were clearly aware time was running out. if they were going to try to get to the airport, they needed to go. but that was offset by the security concerns. i think fair to say we're still waiting for any kind of word definitively, how many americans, passport holders might have been outside the gate. >> when we talk to sam again, we'll talk to him based on his experience of being in the area, where u.s. forces would be stationed in terms of are they always just behind the blast wall, on top of the wall as we've seen in some cases. i know there is sometimes doors that open up. we'll talk to him about the details of that. barbara, we'll continue to check in with you. kate lynn collins is joining us from the white house. i understand the president's just wrapped a national security briefing? >> meeting, getting an update he
has been getting every morning this week on the latest out of the afghanistan and what has happened overnight. and he was actually there when this explosion happened. and he remained there for quite some time after. it appears that meeting has wrapped. we're checking with white house sources on that. of course, this is top of mind for the president. it's actually disrupted his schedule here at the white house today. he was supposed to be meeting with the israeli prime minister who is visiting washington right now in the oval office. they just actually told the israeli press to leave the white house, giving an indication of how delayed that meeting is expected to be. and also the president was supposed to meet virtually with governors this afternoon. that meeting has also now been cancelled by the white house. so we are waiting to see like barbara said whether or not president biden does address the nation. i think it would be a while if we hear from him. they are still gathering information at the white house on how many u.s. personnel were potentially affected by the attack. what this looks like and what
the next response is going to be. because there are still several days left in this evacuation that is happening from afghanistan before the president has that deadline for all u.s. troops to be removed. but anderson, also over the last several days as president biden has been warning about the intelligence they were seeing, the longer the u.s. troops stayed, they believed the higher the risk to them on the ground could get. he said if there was any effort to harm u.s. members or disrupt the evacuation, he promised a swift and forceful response. those are the two things the president and his national security team are discussing right now. the safety and security of the thousands of u.s. troops who are still on the ground, and of course, what their response to this attack is going to be. >> obviously figuring out a response to a group like isis-k is obviously a difficult thing in afghanistan, particularly with the limited counterterror operations that probably are -- the limited capabilities they might have right now. >> yeah.
i think that is the number one thing that we haven't actually seen the pentagon identify them yet. they have said it is likely. that is what their intelligence over the last week has been showing. and so how he would respond to that really does remain to be seen. what are the options being presented is another question reporters would have. there was supposed to be a press briefing with the press secretary right now. of course, that has also been delayed as part of the schedule. i believe we'll probably likely hear from the pentagon before the white house press secretary as they are gathering information on this. >> kaitlyn, appreciate it. kaylee atwood is at the state department. what the state department has been warning about has occurred, it seems. kylie, any announcements from the state department? >> last night when the state department told americans not to go to the airport, citing the fact that there was a threat at the airport, citing some of the specific gates they should stay away from, that was an indication that everything in
terms of u.s. intelligence was getting urgent with regard to the possibility of a terrorist threat the biden administration has been saying was possible for the last few days and weeks. it's one of the factors we know when into president biden's decision to double down and get this evacuation done by the deadline of august 31st, because it was his belief that the longer the u.s. stays, the longer they are in the possibility that they could be impacted by this terrorist threat. and so he wanted to get americans, get u.s. troops out. now, of course, this is a manifestation of those threats streams. particularly from isis-k that the government, that the u.s. intelligence officials were picking up this. but we should note we don't know exactly who has taken responsibility. who is to blame for these two explosions. and we also know that there has been a tremendous amount of gunfire. the state department telling american citizens after the
reports of these explosions to stay away from the airport, and to go as far as they can to avoid coming close to those gates. now, earlier this morning, the top u.s. diplomat on the ground said that these threats were imminent. that was an important word that he used. because clearly they were imminent. but as we're watching these images, anderson, these incredible tragic images of afghans covered in blood in wheelbarrows leaving the gates being impacted by the explosions, it is a grim reality to recognize that the casualty number is likely to be much higher on the afghan side. we know that there are some u.s. officials who were wounded in this. but it's the afghans who have been crowding around these gates in large numbers trying to get out of the country onto these evacuation flights that the united states has been doing. a lot of them have tried multiple times to get to those gates. they know it's dangerous. they know the situation is
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♪ ♪ welcome back to our continuing coverage of the attacks in kabul. a turkish official is telling cnn they believe two suicide bombers carried out the attacks outside the airport this morning. also now just coming out, a taliban spokesperson says that they have -- there are reports of 13 dead, 52 wounded in explosions. we have to note there are no indications of the nationalities of the deceased or injured at the time. we don't know. and cnn has not been able to
independently verify this report from the taliban. and we should say even the taliban is qualifying what they are saying by saying 13 persons are reported to have been killed and 52 wounded. obviously their ability to gather information at this location is hampered. so take that for what it's worth. again, these are early reports. i want to bring in our diplomatic editor nic robertson. nic, obviously this is exactly what the united states feared. what president biden has been warning about. what does this do to future operations? august 31st was the deadline. as many as 1500 americans are still left in the country. what happens now? >> i think all bets are off. we can't know until we get a fuller and more complete readout. the readout we have from the taliban, part of their statement
also goes onto say as well as noting the casualties, as you say, 15 dead, 52 wounded. we don't know the nationalities. the taliban say this happened in a civilian area. they use that language. it happened in a civilian area. they also say this was an area where u.s. forces operated as well. and their statement goes onto say, and this is a bit where i think we need to really take note about how things proceed forward from here. they say that they will attack every measure to catch the culprits. we knew that these final days of the evacuation were going to set the future tone of the relationship with the taliban. they promised and made great stock out of the fact that they told the united states that no u.s. forces would be targeted while the drawdown was going on. this was over a many month long period. they recently had been proudly standing up and saying they had done this. the taliban own this. and i think there's a very, very
important and substantial point to be made here. the taliban also promised the united states as part of their agreement that the united states would get out of afghanistan. the taliban also promised that they would not allow terrorists to use the soil of afghanistan and here they were talking about al qaeda and others to target foreign countries. it is apparent, it is very apparent that the taliban cannot even control what is at their front door. never mind terrorist training camps, al qaeda, isis-k in remote parts of the country. never mind control what they're doing in the camps and what they're plotting and what they may be planning to perpetrate in capitol cities of europe or cities in the united states. the taliban's words ring hollow. there are a lot of skeptics that said how can the taliban really guarantee that they're going to top al qaeda.
it is still based in afghanistan. stop it attacking the united states of the future because that was the reason to go in. keep the taliban from power and help take control of afghanistan to stop al qaeda being a threat to the united states and other countries. today the taliban's words ring empty. they cannot control security even a few miles from where they're set up in the center of kabul. it is difficult, but they have failed. and their future failures could cost even dearer. >> and nic, perhaps realizing that and knowing that, the taliban in their statement, they say that they confirm two explosions in the assembly of people in the area managed by u.s. forces. they're trying to make it that this is an area that the u.s. controls which is obviously not exactly the case. the u.s. is behind walls at the airport. nic robertson, we'll continue to check in with you. joining me now is former chairman of the house
intelligence committee, mike rogers. chairman rogers, what does the u.s. need to do right now to protect u.s. forces and civilians? >> yeah. this is certainly a sad day. many believed it was going to happen, and a lot of us thought when will it happen and why didn't it happen sooner, unfortunately. the taliban is not a structured military force. never has been. they have some qualities and training, but our u.s. presence is really in the hands of the taliban which is really largely a terrorist organization that now finds themselves in power. remember, out of kabul they're still involved in stonings and closing girl's schools and executions without extradition ek cushions. all of that is happening. all around afghanistan. so what we've said is the taliban will protect our soldiers who are behind only at the airport. i think we're going to have to push that perimeter out in order to get people out safely.
it helps isis if they have a few of these successful attacks. they want to bloody americans as much or any foreigners there. and if they kill afghans who worked with the west, even better. that's a target for them. and you don't have complete loyalty among the fighters. everybody wants to make sure -- i hear people talking. there's a distinct line between isis and al qaeda and the taliban. there's a lot of distrust and a lot of -- they don't get along. however, remember, right after bin laden, and the rise of isis in syria, groups that were ledged allegiance to al qaeda started saying we're now pledging our allegiance to isis. i'm sure you remember that. it was about three or six months they were doing public announcements. it's not as clean as we want. it's turned into a bit of a dish of terrorism and -- >> even the taliban itself, you
know, we often think about it as this -- as sort of one group when, in fact, there are kind of all different levels and kind of hemispheres within the organization itself. i mean, the taliban who are negotiating in qatar who are on the foreign stage and interact with women are different than fighters on the ground who have come into kabul. there are differences from people in the south and those who come from the east of afghanistan linked with networks. there are a lot of different factions within the taliban. >> completely. one of the things about this big taliban army everyone is talking about, more than half of them can't read. they're ill literal. and so one of the reasons they make the pronouncement in kabul. by the way, this is already happening outside of kabul where they say you need to stay home, you can't go to work for your
safety. they're telling you they have no way to control large swaths of the taliban fighters who believe women are cattle. this is who we are now negotiating with. these are the prisoners we just released. it's -- this is a huge security problem. and so even if they get assurances from taliban leadership, they just told us the other day by telling women to stay home even though they promised the west they wouldn't do this, we can't control these people. one of the things that isis and the taliban have been very good at is threatening families that were working with the west before all this happened to infiltrate certain places, to run suicide bomber operations, vehicle-born explosion operations. they did all of that. and so again, i just -- we've kind of said they're going to protect us. i think today you realize, and hopefully americans realize, and i hope the president realizes that just didn't going to happen. we are going to have to take control of a bigger space around
that airport if you really want to make sure that everybody gets out of there that it doesn't become a target. the smaller our military footprint, the more tasty target for al qaeda and isis and others. >> when you talk about expanding the perimeter, that brings in a host of issues. there's blast walls around the airport. there's not blast walls in an expanded perimeter unless we move the blast walls and start putting up new blast walls. all of this -- you're talking about a huge undertaking. >> well, it's huge. but here's the risk you take. and it won't be easy. i'm not sure the taliban -- they're going to be for this. but if you can't push them back in the perimeter and then move out our u.s. presence to give us a little breathing room -- and that airport is darn near impossible to secure. it's basically an urban airport, and we don't control any of the city around the airport. it makes it just an absolute nightmare for security. yes, it's not going to be easy.
the other option, and i think this is where they're leaning and we're hearing this from people in afghanistan. they're going to put a padlock on the gates and run like hell and get on the airplanes and get out. a sad and embarrassing day for the united states, but i think that's the choice they're going to make. that's what the people on the ground are telling us they're being told. basically run, panic. we even heard one say get on foot and go north and hope you can get to the border. those are the kinds of things running through the city of kabul right now. and that creates its own chaos. that's why we also really ought to look at the blast as well. this blast also helps the taliban. they don't want these people leaving. they want to be able to stop people at their control points. i'd be careful of finding out who, what, when, where. we know taliban uses this tactic. >> yeah. and there's a lot of different groups that would benefit, particularly the taliban from
something like this. mike rogers, appreciate it. we are just getting new and graphic video of the aftermath of the terror attack in kabul. we're blurring the video because it's so jarring. you can see a row of bodies. some wounded among citizens there. others lifeless. survivors and bystanders looking for anyone they can who can help. with me now is our cnn producer with details out of kabul. tim, what do we know now that we didn't know an hour ago? >> anderson, i think the most important thing we know is this was a complex attack and fits in so many ways the isis-k. they have the motivation to do this. they had the capability to do this. and it was typical of their m
mode of operation. in this year alone, afghanistan carried out 77 attacks across afghanistan. they have sleeper cells in kabul that go after that hit major civilian gatherings. very often targeting shia mosques, for example. so they're capable. they know what they're doing, and they also wanted to show the taliban that they are -- that the deal that they put it in the hotel rooms of qatar, was basically surrendering islam to the americans. so they're on a mission here. isis-k, and they have been also supplemented by well over 100, perhaps several hundred isis prisoners who escaped at the taliban advanced across afghanistan, especially from two prisons near kabul where they were held. the taliban have a major security headache on their hands, and the big question going forward is can they
possibly govern afghanistan in the midst of an emerging humanitarian and economic crisis? and unable to control huge tracks of what is a very -- country. but al qaeda and isis will be difficult to control, and you have to wonder, although president biden talks about the over the horizon capability. you have to wobnder if the lack of human intelligence will make terrorism. >> i want to go to sam kylie in qatar just reporting most recently in kabul from the airport for days. we've just gotten in this video. you've blurred it for understandable reasons. it's graphic, but if we can rerack it and can you talk about -- let's talk about the area we're seeing you talked about a canal and blast walls. where do you -- where is this
video from, do you believe? >> the sewage canal, or at least i've seen the original version of this. just south of the abbey gate. videos are emerging that we've having to authenticate and blur because they are so graphic. so it is clearly on that road up toward the abbey gate where large numbers of people have been concentrating. it's overlooked by as you progress north up that road, you get kind of within sight of the airport perimeter. you come closer and closer until you're right up against effectively the airport perimeter. and it's at that point where american and other international coalition troops but mostly americans are up on the wall almost like medieval people, medieval nights standing on the
ramparts of battlements. frequently visible around the gate to people trying to get in. that's the way many people have been able to get in. by getting messages inside the airport to say i've got my documents. the documents get screened and identifying themselves without clothing or a baby dressed in yellow as one did. allowing the soldiers then to literally point at them and then they quickly open the gate and close it again very rapidly, letting people in in the sporadic moments. of course, that's necessary and is part of the screening process, but it means you get a bottle neck of people presenting inev inevitably a target for groups who want to cause the carnage. it's a catastrophe, clearly for the people of afghanistan. it's also very bad news, indeed, for the taliban who will now be held responsible for the failure of security to run the airport perimeter. they were supposed to have run a better screening process fut
out. i think one should also bear in mind, notwithstanding the fact that the taliban themselves have a long record of terrorist attacks, particularly in kabul, the very few countries around the world have been immune to terrorist attacks. it's not possible, least of all in a place like afghanistan to stop every single potential attack. there's indeed some possibility that the information about this imminent attack to the americans may well have come from the taliban in the first place, but they will still be held responsible for the failure here that has allowed this to happen. >> just talk kind of the -- try to get a sense for our viewers. if you haven't been to this area and it's been a while since i was at the kabul airport, it's confusing to try to get in our minds a visual of where the u.s. forces are, we're showing this map. you can see the baron, the area over the baron hotel. it's not far from near the bean
gate where an explosion was reported. in the video that we're blurring out, how far is that from a location where american forces would be? and you talked about the americans on the blast walls, essentially essentially looking over the blast walls. potentially to a blast? >>. >> they're high up. some of these are five or six yards high. in theory, they should have been relatively well protected. but the problem is that -- and this blast has gone off, and i'm just looking slightly off to the right there. i can see them. you're looking at them. where you see the red dot, the blast is south of that location, i think, in all probability. that's where people have been concentrating. that could have meant that american forces and others would have been very close to it.
and because this road is bounded at that point on two sides by concrete walls, these blast walls, the force of the blast will go up and down the street and straight up, and that means that anybody up on the top of the blast walls would be vulnerable to it. it's up from the ground and can't go out sideways. it's squeezed up and out, up and down the road. concentrating the blast probably contributed to the casualties among americans. and clearly has caused mass casualties among the afghans. the taliban claiming that there are 52 injured. we know from the -- a long experience in afghanistan, they said they received 60 wounded and six dead on arrival. we know from seeing the unblurred footage that we've been showing that very large num numbers of people have been killed. it's carnage there.
but the. >> it was part of the structures of the security for the international coalition. that was the british base where the airborne brigade were based. it's why the area is a magnet. not only do people get in through the gate, they also go via -- the abbey gate. the british largely collapsed that as part of their withdrawal, i believe, because there were a lot of brits on the air base yesterday. they said frankly, a stone's throw almost between the exit to the baron and the entrance to abbey gate. there's a report of a second explosion, or probability at the baron gate. or close to it. there's no reports they got to the hotel but they were close to it. >> sam, what happens now? secretary blinken yesterday was
saying as many as 1500 americans may still be in afghanistan. we don't know what now is going to happen outside these gates, whether obviously yesterday evening east coast time around i think around 7:00 p.m. or so the u.s. put out an alert, the state department from the airport putting out alerts saying any americans outside trying to get in, you should leave now because of a specific threat. i don't know if -- what the attack occurred, was it the result of what that threat was intercepted. but what happens now in terms of those left behind who are still trying to get out? american citizens obviously any afghans who have documents? but particularly american citizens, how will the u.s. actually get american citizens out if they cannot now come to the gates?
>> i think the americans are going to have to move very fast indeed. they have been frankly squads going out and picking people up. covid operations to go out and get people in specific locations with prearrangements. many or most of them have been successful. i've spoken to groups have have been trapped, trying to get to locations where they might be rescued, unable to do so. there's a probability, actually, that taliban cooperation in that sort of an operation would be accelerated, because there's everything for the taliban to be gained in trying to recover their reputation such as it is with the united states after an atrocity like this, rather than dig their heals in, and at the same time, i think that -- on top of that, there will be or there has been promises made by the taliban and the biden
administration that after the military evacuation, there will be a possibility for normal exfiltration to use a military term, to leave the country by normal means. the problem there is that the borders between the -- the land worders between afghanistan and pack -- pakistan are fraught. it's not clear if they're open between afghanistan and p pakistan. the taliban is a hydroheaded beast. not a great deal of discipline at the micro level. a great deal of opportunities for people to get badly hurt or worse through taliban simply behaving according to type rather than according to how their new central command is trying to project this new taliban 2.0. the best -- the greatest hope for those left behind is a seamless transition at the airport, a return to civilian aircraft traffic, and then a
passage out with the approval of the taliban to whatever country they're going to. the problem with that is that the taliban already said prior to this explosion, no afghans must go down this road because we don't want to have our doctors and engineers and others being exported to foreign countries. they need to row back on that for any afghan really to have much prospect of getting out in the short term. i think the americans are probably going to hunker down and wait and see. because now it's very dangerous to get out there to that airfield. >> yeah. sam kylie, appreciate it. we will be right back with more details from kabul.
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welcome back to our continued coverage of the attack in kabul. we have an update out of the white house. kaitlyn collins is standing by. >> reporter: anthony blinken has been one of the top officials at the white house for several hours now monitoring this alongside president biden, given they were already in the situation room for a prescheduled national security meeting this morning when this explosion happened. my colleague bitsy kline says that the secretary blinken has left after being on campus for three hours. we assume he's going back to the state department to continue to monitor this from there. this comes as president biden now after spending the morning in the situation room is in the oval office and is receiving regular updates on what has happened and what has june folded in kabul with this explosion outside the airport. of course, the number one question for officials is what has happened to u.s. service members on the ground who were operating. a lot of the gates where you saw hundreds of people waiting outside. the same gates the state
department was telling u.s. citizens last night not to approach and to leave the gates given the security threats that were happening and came to fruition this morning. we're waiting for an update. this has up sended the schedule not just in the white house. there was supposed to be a meeting with the israeli prime minister. it's not clear if it's going to happen today given the fluidity of this timing as they're trying to figure out the latest on the ground. there was supposed to be another meeting this afternoon that's been cancelled this. we're waiting to hear from white house officials. i think we're not going to hear from white house officials until we've heard from the pentagon on what they know is the latest going on. >> all right. we'll check back with you shortly. joining me now to adam kinzinger. congressman, your thoughts on what we're seeing so far? >> well, it's obviously awful.
we were in a briefing in congress a couple days ago, and we were warned of this exact threat. it was actually probably the only time i've had a briefing where there was such specific information. obviously we had it from good sources. but look, the reality is i think this needs to be a reminder to americans. that when it comes to war, it's not just one side that can decide if they want that war to end. one person, one side can determine they want it to continue. and they get a vote in that. and as we're getting ready to leave, as we had a day certain to be out, we get hit by isis. and by the way, anybody that believes the taliban is now some magical new governance solution that is our bull work against isis, that's not true. this is in their dna even in their fervent religious beliefs. every day a president has to make decisions and sometimes the decisions lead to harder
decisions, and i think the decision to leave afghanistan melt easy. now it's leading to a hard decision of what do we do with those we have to evacuate. >> obviously there's a lot you can't say about the briefing you received. are you confident this was an isis-k attack? >> yeah. i mean, i guess i can't say i'm confident that it was isis at this moment. it seems like that's the case. and i can't go into a lot of what we were briefed but this seems to comport with what the warning was. but i mean, this is a big concern. again, keep in mind isis, the hakani network which is going to be part of the governing coalition of the taliban, all the folks have made it clear that they want to do large scale attacks on civilians and everything else. and now as we exit afghanistan, we're losing our ability to see into that decision matrix. i would imagine that this warning that came about isis and
the attack will probably not have that same stream of information available when we're completely out of afghanistan. >> the president had promised quote, a swift and forceful response to any attack on u.s. forces. it's one thing to say that. it's another thing to actually make that happen. >> so this is -- this is that escalating series of decisions that a president has to make. there's no good answer to this. but i think if the president does not respond where he can, if the president does not follow through on the commitment even though this is going to slow up the evacuation to get every american out, and the promises we have made to our afghan partners, the view of us not responding after this attack and then fleeing from the kabul airport i think will do a lot to embolden those that now have an easy way to go out and recruit other radicals to fight the
united states of america and our partners. i wish i could be rand paul and come on tv and talk about endless wars and tell you america is doing this stuff that isn't worth it, but this is reality confronted in the face when america fakes easier choices and decides we're going to leave. the fact is there are people that no matter how much we want to go home, they want to kill us. we either fight them there or we'll fight them here. >> i received something while you're talking. according to a senior u.s. official and another source briefed on initial assessments, u.s. officials say they believe isis-k is likely behind the attack but are working to confirm the group's involvement. what do you think u.s. options are? i mean, there are -- certainly one option is continuing with the withdrawal, trying to get
more u.s. troops out. trying to get out of afghanistan as soon as u.s. forces can. how did they -- i mean, if they choose to continue this and continue evacuations, how did they reach out to americans and get americans to the airport? i assume gathering outside the gate for americans say that's not option? >> yeah. i mean, it's going to be -- look, here's the reality. maybe there's moments when they can get them through the gate, when they know it's secure. maybe it's going to be going outside the gate to get americans. the taliban acted like they're going to secure the perimeter. they obviously did not. i think there's a case for the united states to make that we are not leaving until all americans and all the afghans that are sivs that we've promised are safe, and we'll go outside of the gate to get them if necessary. it's going to be dangerous. this is, again, every decision leads to other decisions. this is a tough one. but i think the best way to push back initially, obviously, if we
know where isis assets are in the region, let's kill those people. secondarily, though, if we leave now without following through on our mission and our commitment to americans and our afghan partners, that will do more damage than any suicide bomb did today. i think double downing on the commitment to bringing those partners home, i think is going to be especially important. i would ebb cncourage the administration to have people in place. we are losing a line of sight into the terrorist groups. >> i appreciate your time. thank you. >> you bet. our coverage continues in just a moment. we're following the breaking news out of kabul. we'll be right back. (announcer) visible is wireless that gets better with friends. pay as low as $25 a month. or bring a friend and you both get a month for $5. so the more people you roll with, the more you save. visible. unlimited data as low as $25 a month.
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welcome our viewers around the world. i'm anderson cooper. we continue coverage out of the breaking news out of afghanistan. a horrifying chapter in the crisis. two explosions outside the kabul airport. some images are graphic and disturbing. these are new images from the aftermath outside the airport. sources telling cnn the u.s. personnel are among the wounded. the extent, we don't know. a taliban spokesman says 13 people are dead, 52 wounded. we can't verify that