tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN August 26, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT
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 report or
the nationalities of the victims. the taliban also says the culprits will be brought to justice. it remains to be seen if they have those capabilities. there's been no claim of responsibilities. a senior official says it points to an isis affiliate. one explosion an apparent suicide attack took place at the abbey gate at the airport. another blast was nearby outside or near a hotel. not clear what that means for the final stage of the evacuation. there have been reports dozens of americans need a military escort still to the airport. through taliban-held territory in kabul and despite warnings of more attacks being possible. the pentagon called the attacks a complex operation. we have our correspondents covering this. sam, let's talk about the two locations that we know about
outside the hotel and by the abbey gate. we've gotten some early horrific images which we had shown earlier. talk about what we know happened. >> well, what we know is there were two blasts. the first, one of the blasts we don't know what order they came in. there was a blast close to the abbey gate. that's one of the southern perimeter points of access for evacuees going into kabul international airport. then the other blast was close to the baron hotel. that has been up until extremely recently the british base of operations with the air assault brigade. also evacuees coming into the baron and moved through the abbey gate and into kabul international airport. the road at that point is
bounded on both sides by blast walls which will concentrate any kind of the blast upwards and up and down the road. it's a way of accelerating or magnifying the capacity of any explosive devices to have it go off in a relatively confined space. but particularly inside walls that are designed to reflect back any kind of a blast. so the scenes we've seen and we've had to blur the videos. unfortunately i had to watch the raw versions. they are of carnage. there are reports from the pentagon of a number of american casualties. we don't know how many. we don't know what condition they're in. and as you say, the taliban have said that 52 wounded. the emergency hospital which is an ngo in central kabul said they admitted 60 people. they say that six afghans were dead on arrival or died soon after after that location. the taliban saying 13 have been killed. we haven't had independent verification. the taliban promising
retribution against this group that now the pentagon is saying is in all probability isis-k, the islamic state. these are mortal enemies of the taliban in the fractious world of islamist militant groups. they're considered by the taliban and al qaeda to be the lunatic violent fringe. they had historically been the kind of leading brand for the vicious and violence islamist movement since they were operating outside of syria. they've spread themselves around the world. they've been trying to get a foothold in afghanistan and would love to hue militate the united states or the taliban in one blast. they have no regard for human life. they've attacked schools, particularly members of a shia ethnic group. mass murder of afghans, a long series of atrocities committed in the capital.
no great surprise they would be assigned responsibility. not least because there was detailed intelligence that was emerging last night with the united states, australia and others, warning their citizens to get away from the airport gates, leave the area because there was a danger of an imminent attack. and about 12 hours later, that's just what followed. therefore, reinforcing, the previous intelligence reinforced the pentagon's view this almost certainly was isis-k. this is a disaster obviously for the united states in terms of evacuating their sitcitizens an people with the special immigrant visas who had been tried to stay away from the gate and banned from traveling there anyway by the afghan taliban. >> sam, let me ask you. within the airport itself with the u.s. forces there, british forces there, what are the medical capabilities that u.s. forces have or british forces have to treat wounded troops?
obviously civilians who are outside the gate probably would not be brought into the airport. there's the security risk of is there another suicide bomber out there if these things happen and with people going to rescue people there ends up being a second one. but for the forces behind the blast walls, what is there? >> the 82nd airborne division is running the airport. they are their support groups that would have brought their own hospital capability. now sadly after 20 years of war in afghanistan and also in iraq, very jacked up operations, and the british travel with their own mobile hospital as part of the air assault brigade. there is also a norwegian military hospital already built in standing. i visited in the past. i visited it when there were four wounded afghan soldiers from the first incident. first attack on the airport which was last sunday with a
sniper attack and then four afghan soldiers wounded in a subsequent fire fight, possibly a probe by isis-k. they were in the four-bed intensive care unit. there's a cat scan, things you would see in a bigger hospital. a kind of microhospital but highly sophisticated. so there's no great shortage of medical capability to deal with casualties of this sort of scale. at any rate, among the coalition troops. as you point out, it's unlikely sadly that civilians will be brought in because of the threat of somebody launching a terrorist attack using that as an opportunity to get in through the wire effectively and carry out a continued terrorist attack, and that's a serious issue. there was clearly being described as a complex attack by the pentagon. in other words, multiple elements to it. two bombs. there's a lot of reports of gunfire. that may been coalition or american gunfire as part of
that. it is typical of the terrorist groups to follow up bomb attacks or even press bomb attacks with gunfire. particularly if you're trying to distract people in order to sneak a suicide bomber or take their eyes off a possible device. >> you make an important point about possible probes earlier on. it's an important point. u.s. official calling this a complex operation. it's very possible if it was isis-k or whatever terror group did this that they had eyes on this area number of times to see where u.s. forces and other forces were, to see where the most vulnerable point would be. >> yeah. i mean, the taliban announced when we were there at the kabul airfield, i think about four days ago now that they had arrested four suspected members of isis-k whom they caught red handed filming possible target locations.
in all probability, locations around the airport. so that's the one point. the second point is prior to that there was a sniper attack on one of the southern gates. again, likely to be an effort to not only kill an afghan soldier which is what they did, but also see how the different military organizations that are guarding the perimeter react. there's probing attacks delivered back to the attacker. important intelligence. potentially important intelligence as to how they might go about carrying out attacks. particularly if it's more than one suicide bombing. if they had plans to follow it up with -- had they been able to penetrate the perimeter, how would they have rushed the gate. >> that's something they did frequently in kabul itself, send in a suicide bomber or vehicle, smash through a gate, usually of a government institution, and then send fighters in. and, indeed, the network of the taliban have done that in the days they were fighting. the government not trying to be
the government in kabul. >> we've seen the similar attacks with al shabaab and somalia of a blast at a gate and then forces run in to try to enter the area. sam, we'll continue to check in with you. our pentagon correspondent orn lieberman joins us now. any word on how this attack may or may not impact the withdrawal deadline or at least the execution of evacuations from now on? >> well, that's one of the key questions the president will have to make a decision on with the advice of his mail tear leaders as well as the state department and security officials. does this, and if so how. normally after a attack like this, you would expect more security to go in. normally you're not operating on a timeline when there's 100 hours left. five days until the u.s. is trying to complete the military withdrawal. so although certainly there's an option and they will discuss what might be an option to send in more security, that's one end
of the spectrum. the other wrap the aerpgs now and get out as quickly as possible. those would be two extremes. the white house and the pentagon will have to make a decision on where you fall if you change course, or do you try to continue it until the end. what level of coordination with the taliban is there if they're trying to increase their form of security around the airport or what they know about this. one of the questions we're waiting to hear from the pentagon is an update on what pentagon press secretary said ellier today. a number of u.s. and civilian casualties, the extent of those injuries and, of course, the number. that's the key update we're waiting for. other decisions how this effects the operation need to be figured out. the pentagon planned for a number of different possibilities and we've known there was an ongoing threat from isis-k and known the tactics they try to use. suicide bombings as well as vehicle born improvised
explosive devices. now that this has gone from a chaos outside the airport to a catastrophe outside the airport, there are difficult decisions to make, but decisions crucial ones that will effect how the next 100 hours plays out from a u.s. perspective. >> trying to figure out how to extricate the remaining americans at the very least who want to leave, that's a complicated task now. >> comply cayed, i would say, is an understatement here. if it's unsafe to move them on the ground, be it by simply having them walk or simply by having them take a car, you don't have another option other than helicopters. there have been limited helicopter operations into kabul to bring out americans and bring them to the airport. but those have been of short distance and krduration. meaning the americans were close to the airport. that brings its own element of risk, especially now that it's clear isis-k is ready and waiting and trying to carry out attacks against u.s. forces and
others. they may say we don't have any other options. these are difficult decisions weighing what is the benefit and the need to bring out americans versus the risk of what could happen to any forces that leave kabul international airport. >> i appreciate it. our national security correspondent has more details on isis-k's possible role in the attack. >> yeah. we're learning from u.s. officials that the early read of the situation here is that isis-k was to blame for the attack. but it's going to take a number of hours for them to figure out the specific people who were involve fwhd this, the individuals. so they can really get a fuller understanding of what happened here. but these threat streams had been coming in to the u.s. government to the intelligence officials for some time now. it's what prompted the state department last night to tell all americans in the country not to go to the airport because there were the threats to the crowds outside the airport there. and we also heard before this
attack happened this morning from the top u.s. diplomat in afghanistan talking about an imminent threat. it's significant that he used that word, because it wasn't just a general threat, potential terrorist threat to the crowds outside the airport. he was talking about something imminent. and talking about how dangerous it was to be part of the crowds outside of the airport. the other thing to consider that you guys were talking about was these americans that are still in the country. yesterday we heard from the state department there are between 500 and 1500 americans still in the country potentially wanting to get out. so the question is how many are there now? we know that there are flights going overnight. there were some americans on the flights presumably. as you discussed, how do you get the americans to the airport? now, the top diplomat this morning said that the u.s. was working on other ways to get americans to the airport. he was not very specific probably for security reasons.
but staying there and getting them to the airport, of course, is key. because president biden has repeatedly promised that any americans in the country who want to get out are going to get out of the country. >> is -- what is the latest number? do you have the latest number of how many people have been evacuated in all from afghanistan by the u.s.? >> yes. the figure is upwards of 80,000. that's a number that includes u.s. military flights, u.s. coalition flights, charters that have been going in. it's a really, really significant number. the other number that is important is that there are about 4500 americans as of yesterday that are among those who have been evacuated from the country. so when you look at the numbers on a big scale here, the number of americans in comparison to the total number is, of course, very small, but that small number is the focus for the biden administration who feels, of course, that they have the responsibility to get out any of
these americans that want to get out and clearly the situation on the ground is now growing more complicated. >> yeah. it's also growing more tragic. just now learning from the pentagon a number of u.s. service members have been killed in this attack in kabul. we don't know exactly how many service members. a number of others we're told were injured. we'll check in with our pentagon respondent in a moment. that's obviously the worst possible news that earlier there were reports of some casualties among u.s. personnel, but this is the first time it's confirmed from the pentagon that a number of u.s. service members were killed. >> and this was, of course, what everybody feared. the pentagon press secretary put out a statement saying a number of u.s. service members were killed in the twin explosions. what he called a complex operation. a complex attack at kabul international airport where there are more than 5,000 u.s. service members at the moment. we now know that a number of
those were killed in this attack. this, again, the worst possible news. the press secretary saying the thoughts and prayers of not only him but the pentagon are with the family members of those loved ones. to put this in perspective, a u.s. service member hasn't been killed in afghanistan since february of 2020. shortly before the signing of the agreement that essentially started the wheels rolling in this entire withdrawal process. we're now down to the last 100 hours of what was supposed to be the u.s. military presence in afghanistan. the withdrawal that former donald trump started. that president joe biden was finishing here right at the end of the month. and, of course, this horrible news as the press secretary said a short time ago in a statement, a number of u.s. service members killed. there were marines and soldiers who were part of the security that guarded the perimeter of the airfield and working as part of the evacuation. we saw the images of them helping the families that came to the base and getting them on the airports and out of the
country. and now this news with five days to go. about 100 hours at this point. a number of us service members killed in the line of duty. >> i talked to a number of retired military people who all talk about the difficulties of evacuations like this. that these kind of extraction operations are among the most difficult things to try to organize all the planning. whatever planning is done, the facts on the ground are constantly changing. there's always a level of chaos. this is obviously now adds another layer to what we have already witnessed over the last several weeks and days. >> absolutely. and a noncombatant evacuation is one of the most difficult to execute. it's not just the volume of people you're trying to move. something like 100,000 people at this point since the beginning of the operation. it's also the fact that it's a
military working with a population that's not a military. less structured, more chaotic. that adds to the difficulty of executing this. you're not only trying to evacuate those for whom you know the credentials but also family members and others who have helped the u.s. 20 years throughout afghanistan. trying to do that in a short span is difficult. we saw the scenes and will continue to see these especially with what just happened over the course of the past few weeks. it's contributed to what has made this difficult. and to add to that, it's in the middle of a war zone. there was effectively an understanding, an agreement and communication with the taliban. that's not the only presence as has become obvious. the threat emerging over the past four or five days. there are other terrorist organizations trying to target the united states. al qaeda and others. all that makes this difficult operation even more challenging from a logistics and security perspective. and more.
and that's why this was so difficult. the chaos of the last few weeks has turned into the catastrophe of the last five days with a number of u.s. service members killed trying to execute this difficult mission right in the middle of afghanistan as the u.s. presence there was winding down. >> yeah. and obviously for family members and service members who are there, this is just a terrible time of fear and concern and where information is -- it's -- people are obviously desperate to know -- make sure their families were contacted. we're being careful about it in the information we're giving out. this comes directly from the pentagon, they describe it as a number of u.s. service members killed in the attack. we'll continue to come back to you with any new information. let's go to our chief white house correspondent. kaitlyn, obviously devastating news from kabul. >> it is the president's worst nightmare for something like
this to happen informal and president biden had been saying for the last several days he was concerned about the threats on the ground to u.s. service members. saying he believed the longer they were there in kabul, working on this evacuation effort, the higher the risk to them became. and now, of course, unfortunately, that devastating situation has become true. and we know president biden is aware of this. obviously he was probably one of the first briefed on it by top military aids at the pentagon. he spent essentially all morning in the situation room with the aids. and the secretary of state just left the white house here a short time ago. and now president biden is in the oval office monitoring these updates. and now that it is confirmed by the pentagon that there have been a number of u.s. service members killed in the attack, it is extremely hard to picture that we do not hear from president biden at some point today. he was scheduled to have a number of events not related to afghanistan publicly including a meeting with the israeli prime minister. those have been cancelled or delayed at this point.
of course it's a fluid situation. this is exactly what president biden's fear had been when it came to the evacuation and the argument where he pushed back on lawmakers, other world leaders who said they wanted that deadline to be extended past august 31st. more of the evacuations of afghan allies could continue. one of the main reasons he and several advisers in the west wing pushed back and never considered an extension is because they were worried about the security situation, and they have been monitoring the threats. we should note, anderson, now that we know several of the service members have now been killed in this explosion, last night the state department sent out an update saying if you're an american citizen, get away from these gates. these gates to get into the airport, the only gates to the only airport to get out of kabul. the service members were there anyway. working on processing these people. and obviously that speaks to just how heroic they were. we don't have information on this. it's a devastating ing situatio
the white house. we'll wait to see if we hear from president biden. >> one of the things that stands out in my mind is something that our clarissa ward said the day she was leaving afghanistan. she spoke to i believe it was a member of the british military forces who had served in a province. when she was at the airport he said to her he had done i think two hours in heldman province. but that what he had seen at the airport in the last -- in the last week, was harder than anything else he had seen in his time in afghanistan. what these troops, american and british, and others are having to witness just on a hour by hour basis, the desperation, the horrible choices that are made from the top of a wall about who gets in and who doesn't, babies being handed over, i mean, it is obviously that plus the constant
very real as we certainly now see the results, security concerns, and concern about their safety. >> yeah. and i think this really only raises the stakes of what happens next. because they're supposed to have about five days left on the ground there in kabul. and there are thousands of u.s. troops there still on the ground. they started sending out a few hundred at a time, but didn't want to effect the evacuation effort which, of course, is still underway overnight and was before this explosion happened in a large scale. the question now is do they get out of there now? what's the next step the pentagon takes given the level of concern here, of course, that they have for the service members. because what we have been hearing and what our pentagon team had been reporting is that as this went on and as it was less -- fewer evacuations and more focusing on getting the thousands of troops out and the resources out of there, was white house officials and pentagon officials worried that the attack, the risk of an attack would get higher if there were fewer troops on the ground.
and so those are going to be the big questions that are facing the president in these moments right now. what he does, what his response is going to be as you were noting earlier. he said if there was any kind of disruption to the operation underway or an attack on u.s. service members, there would be a swift and forceful response by the united states. that was directed at the taliban, but i presume it applies in all situations. but, of course, what happens to those on the ground, and what next steps that the president takes here. those are the options that are on his plate right now as he is monitoring those. >> i want to check in with our sam kylie in qatar who has been reporting from the airport in kabul. sam, this is terrible, terrible information that we have learned from the pentagon. a number of u.s. service members killed. a number of others wounded and treated right now. talk a little bit about the
difficulties that u.s. troops have faced in the jobs that they have been doing over the last week or so. >>. >> the principle difficulty is that they are face to face with the taliban. sometimes almost within touching distance. running the last check points as they allow passengers or evacuees to come to the gates. and then they're completely exposed. and there are times when they reach over the walls. we've seen it time and again. they're very exposed there. often with their rifles at their ready. but in order to pick somebody up or reach out into a are crowd and get somebody out, you've seen british troops actually charge into the crowd with stretchers. when they had a crush tragedy outside, there were seven people killed in the crash. british troops ran exposed, straight into the thick, among the taliban to withdraw people. this is the sort of action british american and other
troops have been conducting at these gates all the time. they're permanently physically exposed. i also spoke to the chaplain of the 82nd airborne who said that similar to what the report from clarissa. the emotional toll it takes on people, making sophie's choice. who gets to come in and who doesn't? you know, it's a heart breaking moment. the moment when you've got a family and half the family has the right paperwork and the other half of the family appears not to have the right paperwork so you let the bit with the right paperwork in and leave the others broken hearted. possibly in the knowledge they may die eventually. this weighs heavily upon the servicemen. they were up on the walls outside the abbey gate, looking down. yesterday cnn aired film that we had filmed by our colleagues in kabul, local correspondents from kabul who filmed people waving z documents up to the troops on
the abbey gate standing in the sewage saying let me in. i've got the documents. those troops able to let people in sporadically, sending little secret signals to try to identify the people who had the right documents so they could be moved through. a terribly stressful environment emotionally anyway. and then you add to that for the last five days at least, frankly since we got there sunday, an absolute certainty of this terrorist threat. there was no doubt in the minds of the intelligence community and it reached a peak last night when they were saying it's going to happen. get away from the gates. messages went out from the united states, australia, the united kingdom, and others to their citizens saying get away from the dwaets. get away from the gates. there's going to be an attack, or an attack is likely to be imminent, and then there was an attack. the soldiers can't get off the gates. it's their job to stay on the walls to stay and guard the perimeter. it's unlikely the president will
accelerate the withdrawal now as a result of this attack. i think sadly, these sorts of casualties are going to be built into the military plan itself anyway. >> sam, there are a number of representatives in congress. i talked to a former congressman mike rogers earlier who talked about the idea of expanding the perimeter around the airport. that seems unlikely at a point like this, because there are blast walls in the perimeter as it is. if you expand the perimeter, you then -- there's not the same blast walls, and you're obviously then exposing u.s. forces at a whole lot of more points to potential attack. >> yeah. i think it's inconceivable that you could expand the perimeter. you'd have to increase the number of troops to do that. if you push out 100 meters, your
sole circumference gets bigger. you need more man power to police it. i mean, they do have lots of assets. they've got what are surveillance aircraft. they can see a great deal about what's going on. you can't tell a suicide bomber with a backpack from an evacuee with a backpack unless they're physically searched. that was supposedly the job of the taliban that had increased the capability of the perimeter in order to top afghans getting to the airport. they failed clearly to stop bombers and other attackers getting to the airport, it would appear. but again, no country in the world can boast it's immune to terrorist attacks. least of all, a chaotic nascent government in a capitol city they've taken on that they themselves have a reputation for terror themselves in any case. indeed, they've conducted many terrorist attacks themselves. the taliban in the past in kabul itself. so the only opportunity i think
for the americans to accelerate the movement of americans out is to have special forces, type operations, probably in cooperation with the taliban, covert operations, low profile, probably at night where they can shoot out and grab people, but that's only done with the cooperation of the taliban. that may be forthcoming. the taliban want to see this august 31st deadline met as much as the americans. >> yeah. sam, appreciate it. i want to bring in a former u.s. air force officer. she co-chairs the global politics and security program at georgetown university. i appreciate your time. your reaction? >> obviously as a veteran myself who served in afghanistan, i'm devastated to hear what's happened. i remember the sounds of the
suicide bombers when i was in kabul. i can just only manage. as a veteran and as someone trying to get colleagues and friends out of afghanistan and people with prior si visas, that door has probably slammed shut now. they were already desperate to get there with the crowds. with the taliban stopping those trying to get out, it was nearly impossible to get out. it looks like the door has shut. it's a tragic day everywhere around and everybody who served the united states. the afghan civilians trying to get out, many of whom who probably served us loyally for years as siv visa holders and so forth. >> we hear from the administration that as many as 100,000 -- i've heard different figures, anywhere from 80,000 to up to 100,000 or so people in all have been evacuated. that's a large number whatever
the final number turns out to be. what do you think happens now? i mean, if having people at the gates is no longer an option, how do you get the remaining americans out? and do you think that means no more afghans getting out at all? >> it's difficult. your experts have talked about the hit and run missions to grab people. you can try to helicopter people in. that's got its own threats because helicopters are very as a ruler in -- vulnerable. trying to get people through the land borders. if you've seen the pictures, that border crossing looks just as hideous as kabul airport did. the odds are going to be very, very difficult. it's going to require some important negotiation with the taliban. because really, to a large extent, other than some of those quick hit and run grab people,
sort of tactics, the ball is in their court. >> you mean the taliban? >> pardon, yes, in the taliban's court. other than small part of the airport we control, they control the land mass of afghanistan right now. and they control the people in afghanistan right now. and they're the ones that decide who comes in and who doesn't. who gets to the airport and other airports and land borders. >> minutes ago the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, says we can't trust the taliban with american security. with the deadline five days away, at this point does the u.s. really have a choice? it seems like any of the options whether it's as you called snatch and grab or going out with the cooperation of the taliban or even ultimately commercial airlines reopening the airport, reopening americans being allowed to leave, it all
requires the cooperation of the taliban? >> yeah. this is where american leverage is going to be crucial. we only have a few lines of leverage left, frankly, that we can use with the taliban if we're not willing to use physical violence to expand perimeters and you've gone into why that would be difficult and cost so many more american lives to do that. we have leverage with the taliban because they do want some international -- they want international aid coming in. about 80% of the budget was foreign assistance. as that assistance disappears, the taliban would like to have some of that foreign aid and top up for the budget back. they would like international recognition, and the trade and travel ties that go with it. the taliban in the 90s got their start in a lot of ways their street credit and backing from pakistan by opening up the various check points that afghan war lords closed off and opening up trade again from pakistan
through afghanistan into iran and central asia. the recognition and the travel and the trade ties would be helpful. and then we do have one other potential area of leverage. and that is the fact that not necessarily they're rank and file, but many of the senior members of the taliban are actually mafia organizations with significant financial interests. and those financial interests, the mafia side, the drug trafficking, consumer goods, moving gold, so forth, those involve significant money laundering chains. and those chains will presumably be outside of afghanistan, because nobody wants to keep their money in afghanistan. there are no solid financial institutions and it's a fragile state. so that means if they're outside of afghanistan, those might be assets we can locate. assets we can freeze. and one of the advantages there, of course, is that would effect senior taliban leadership and might be able to use a
combination of carrot and sticks to get them to work and protect american citizens and let sivs out and let american citizens out and others out. allies get out as well. >> jodie, no easy options. i appreciate you joining us. thank you. thank you. >> we'll take a short break. our coverage continues in a moment. over the years, mercedes-benz has patented thousands of safety innovations. crash-tested so many cars we've stopped counting. and built our most punishing test facility yet, in our effort to build the world's safest cars. we've created crumple zones and autonomous braking. active lane keeping assist and blind spot assist. we've introduced airbags, side curtain airbags, and now the first-ever rear-mounted front-impact airbags. all in the hope that you never need any of it. ♪ ♪
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have been killed in the attack. we don't know the exact number. a number of service members are also being treated for their wounds. we're going to show you a graphic video of the aftermath of the attack. it's a cell phone camera video. we're not going to blur the images this time. we did earlier. we're going to show you the reality of what has happened in afghanistan outside near one of the gates outside kabul airport. i want to warn you some of the images are graphic and very disturbing .
piles of people dead and wounded in what are some essentially a sewage canal on either side. there are blast walls as well as a road that people were standing on. i want to bring in our senior international correspondent sam kylie and diplomatic editor nic robertson as well. the video you saw previously, horrific. talk a little bit about where that video, where we believe it
is located. the spot it's located and explain what the situation for the people there would have been prior to the attack. >> well, from the video we can tell that at least these dead and injured are in the drainage canal or sewage canal that runs alongside the main road up to what's called abbey gate. that's where u.s. forces have been sporadically allowed people in. and across the road from where the other blast is reported to have come from, the baron hotel, which until recently it's the base of british operations for the air assault brigade there. just south of the abbey gate but parallel, there are gaps where you have visibility on to the drainage ditch. it's wide as you can see from the images and deep. now, whether these people were blasted into the ditch from the
road itself or whether the attack was conducted in the ditch. in both cases the concrete walls of the ditch or the blast walls of the road would have concentrated the blast. now, on top of that, the road and the ditch at least until the point at which the ditch is actually full of slurry and then including that point have been full of human beings. full of people pressing up, trying to get through, trying everything they possibly could to get into the abbey gate and get away from taliban rule in their country. and that is the location in all certainty that these american casualties, we now know from the pentagon, several dead and several injured, will have been wounded. because they are exposed at that point. they cannot be anything other than exposed in order to conduct their humanitarian role of filtering people. al bee it from the top of the blast wall, they're
communicating, looking down from that blast wall with people on the ground desperate to get out. that is how people have been able to get in. in ones and twos. these very difficult choices being made by servicemen and women whose main role is securing the perimeter of the airport. these are usually paratroopers or marines. these are frontline combat troops having to make life and death decisions effectively for the afghan population that very soon in their minds, they knew america was going to effectively leave behind. so already tense moments, and now we know that four soldiers or service people have been killed as a consequence of this blast. now, the blast walls should or would have protected many more from getting more casualties, assuming this blast went off at ground level. the blast was also drive -- the force of the explosions upwards
and because these servicemen and women are not in the normal posture of being behind and below the top of the blast wall but looking over it, they're that much more vulnerable. they're doing the right thing. they're trying to save lives, not take them which is the normal training for a soldier. >> yeah. nic robertson, in terms of -- still a lot we don't know at this hour. senior u.s. official saying that at this point the u.s. believes isis-k, an affiliate group of isis was responsible for this, but more information is still needed. it's hard to see -- i mean, in terms of options moving forward for the united states in this e evacuation, it doesn't feel like there are a lot of good questions. >> the big questions will come after the evacuation is completed. how did we get into this position where we were dependent on the taliban to provide security? we know the fundamental answer is the taliban sprung to power
and took over the country much more quickly, but what were the flawed decisions that were made to get to that point? and part of those flawed decisions, i think, we're going to begin to see more conversation about it. is the amount of trust that was placed in the taliban, the trust, the one piece of that trust that they kept was their promise until now to be able to protect u.s. service personnel. i think the taliban obviously cannot control and protect everyone in the country all the time, but they did manage to make sure that u.s. service personnel weren't tarted be i their fighters. but the other promise that the taliban made was to negotiate with the afghan government. they fought their pay to power. that was not the expectation on the u.s. side. and the other promise the taliban made was that their territory would not be used to attack overseas countries, the united states. explicitly, al qaeda, the reason we've gone into afghanistan in the first place would not
perpetrate more attacks on the united states. and people i'm talking to at the moment who have had decades of experience of dealing with the taliban, of understanding their messaging among each other, the way that these people i'm talking to feel that the united states and others have been duped by the taliban really feel it's a moment where we must get tougher with the taliban. that we cannot accept their word at face value. we never did. but we did. and this is why we're at where we're at. there's a sense of how does the situation move forward? that's why i say it's after the evacuation. because essentially we're talking about the future relationship with the taliban. and trying to find a way to build a society in afghanistan, a government that is not just the taliban. these are the longer term issues, but to your point, the evacuation right now, there
really are no good options. you've been discussing that. it does seem to be the airport is the only way realistically and the only remaining question is how many more people can you bring into the fold and get to the airport? it appears to it appears to me as if some kind of extension beyond the 31st of august, certainly president biden created the scope to say things had to keep going positively to meet that deadline and there were contingencies. it seems very hard to meet that deadline in a safe way at this time, anderson. >> appreciate it. i want to bring in congressman gregory meeks, chairman of the house foreign committee. large numbers of afghans have been killed and wounded as well as others. what happens now in terms of the
evac evacuation? >> well, first, anderson, you know, it has been an extremely difficult day. not an unpredictable day unfortunately. you know, we've had several classified meetings over the last couple of days and so this is not something that we were unaware of in that regards. i think that, look, over the last few months we -- the first objective was to get 60,000 individuals out, both american citizens focused on first and then, of course, our sivs and other afghans. we up to date have gotten close to 100,000 out, which is tremendously important. i feel confident that as secretary of state blinken indicated that there are still procedures that are going to take place after the 31st to make sure that all of those american citizens that want to leave will be taken care of so
that they're not going to be left behind in that regards. there's plans that will be utilized in that regard. so i think that it is clear that the president of the united states is correct in his assessment that where the danger lies right now is those of us that are still on the ground. so, therefore, we have to get them out and they're doing that, and we will continue to get them out either past the 31st, but there are plans arranged to do just that. >> it sounds like though, are you in favor -- i mean it sounds like it is going to be difficult to continue to have americans showing up outside the gates trying to fight their way through the crowds at the kabul airport at the very least. are there alternative ways? i mean we have heard about alternative ways to try to get some americans. i mean how do -- if there's 1,500 americans, i don't know how many of them want to leave
or are accessible, but how will americans be able to get out? >> well, again, i think that as indicated by secretary blinken that those that we know of we were able to get in contact with them. so, therefore, there will be information just as the information that took place to say that -- to stay away from the airport, stay away from the gates, don't go there because security was in jeopardy, there's mechanisms to stay in contact with them so that they can -- when it is time to get them out, they can get out safely and not just coming to the gate and waiting. by and large a lot of individuals that were at the gate, and unfortunately, they rushed the gate. some of the images, the terrible images that we've seen, they've rushed the gate and americans, if you look at the intelligence, they've been asking folks and saying to many of them, don't
come to the gate, that security is a concern. so that's kind of a continuation of communication, it is tremendously important. and i know that, as i said, there are mechanisms in place to try to make sure that communication is there so that we can evacuate them in a safe manner as we have done with close to 100,000 already. >> you called last week for a look at essentially what went wrong. what exactly would you hope, what questions do you want answered? >> well, we're still going as a foreign affairs committee, we will have our oversight hearings. we are planning on doing that sometime in the future, but our focus right now has been to make sure that we get as many americans and sivs and afghans who we had committed to out of afghanistan. that has been the focus of the briefings that we've had over
the last couple of days. you know, there was a major briefing for all of the members of the congress, the house of representatives, and then we had a subsequent follow-up for members of the house foreign affairs committee. i now will be looking to do further briefings and updates with the administration. they've been available and cooperative in that regard, and so we probably will do more of that. so my focus right now is to make sure that we get as many, if not all, american citizens, sivs, afghan -- vulnerable afghans who put their lives on the line for us, to get them out there and to make sure that there are plans to get them out. those that are not out by the 31st, to make sure they're out thereafter. >> chairman meeks, i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. joining me cnn global affairs analyst kim dozier. you have been talking to people trying to evacuate from afghanistan today. what are you hearing? >> yes, i was speaking to a family that was at the baron
hotel and then was directed to go to abbey gate by a network of current and former u.s. officials in touch with the military on the ground, and the baron hotel in the hour it took them to get there, to the gate of the baron hotel where they were directed to go, the task force inside of western officials first shh rank and th collapsed, leaving a growing crowd of afghans outside that drew the taliban's attention. so the taliban moved in and started beating people outside that hotel. in the interim this afghan family had been told we know about the warning but you need to get to abbey gate. it is briefly going to be open and we put your names on a list at the front, you just have to get to the marines. so they pushed their way through a route of hundreds, if not thousands of people. got to the marines, and while the marines had taken some people earlier who were on the same high-risk list, something
changed. maybe they had been warned about the rising threat, but they stopped taking anyone. the family i spoke to said they even saw afghans with american passports pushing to the front. the marines wouldn't let them in. i guess they were trying to get everyone to leave that gate. it didn't work. this man then got notice by the taliban, who were near the u.s. troops at the opening to the gate. he and his eldest sons got beaten very badly, clubbed. so they retreated. they've gone back into hiding. that's happened with some other senior afghan officials who were directed to take the same route. they were actually told try one last time to go to the abbey gate this morning. thank god they didn't. >> it is some of the horrific choices that, you know, marines, soldiers on the wall are having to make. obviously there's a, you know, security threat, intelligence about a potential suicide
bombing, the idea of letting people, afghans into the perimeter through the gate, it takes on a whole other level of threat. do you know what is going to happen to this family that you have talked to? >> well, you know, i sent them before -- i warned them first but i sent them the video we have just shown, and the father of the family said, "we were standing right there, we would all be dead." they have decided just to take their chances with the taliban government because there's no way to get money out of western union, to get enough money to pay their way out. i'm hearing from a lot of former afghan translators, even afghan officials who are either having to try to blend in or trying to figure some way, if they're really high profile and really recognizable, some other way to get smuggled out. >> that's going to be extraordinarily difficult. i mean -- you know, i think a lot of afghan officials probably
tried to leave very early on when there were still commercial flights out. do you have the sense of how many afghans who have, you know, sivs or other reasons to leave are actually still there? do we know? >> it has to be in the thousands. i mean i personally know of four sivs who can't get out. they've got all of their paperwork. they tried the gate several times around the airport, and now they're afraid, especially -- that was before the suicide attacks. there have been various different -- a lot of disinformation floating around where people will be told, hey, siv applicants, go to this hotel, we're gathering you together to bus you into the airport, and then people who are cited in those missives say, we didn't go to the hotel, we didn't send it out, it is a trap. it is a very confused time. the other thing happening is, yes, these people are trying to
hole up in various safe houses around the city, but the taliban has started going not necessarily from house to house, but they're checking in across neighborhoods, either places that they've been told former senior officials or prominent journalists lived. i know of one case where they even ransacked a former senior official's house and questioned all of his cleaning people to see if they could find out where he had gone. so while the taliban political wing is saying that there's an amnesty and people who worked for the americans or the former government are welcome to stay and forgiven for their past sins, the taliban military wing has been sending out these court or death notices, either sentencing people to death in absentia for the crime of working with the americans or telling them to show up or be sentenced to death for trial. >> terrifying. kim dozier, appreciate it. thank you. it is good to see you. thank you all for joining me. the news continues next with alisyn and victor. ♪