Rep. Adam Schiff
(Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski)

The threat of a terrorist attack on Kabul airport is “very real and very substantial,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters on Monday.

Fielding media questions after leaving the U.S. Capitol following an intelligence briefing, Rep. Schiff was asked about the threat of a terrorist attack on the airport:

“What about the threat to the airport right now, the threat to the airport? I mean, there are extremists mixed in with the Taliban.”

“I think the threat to the airport is very real and very substantial and this has been a concern of mine for some days now,” Schiff answered. “This would make a very attractive target for ISIS-K, or for elements of Al Qaeda, but most particularly ISIS-K,” which might want to prolong U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Schiff said.

“It’s a real danger,” because any mass gathering, like that at the airport, is particularly vulnerable to terrorist bomb attacks, Schiff said:

Reporter: “What about the threat to the airport right now, the threat to the airport? I mean, there are extremists mixed in with the Taliban.”

Rep. Adam Schiff: “I think the threat to the airport is very real and very substantial and this has been a concern of mine for some days now, that this would make a very attractive target for ISIS-K, or for elements of Al Qaeda, but most particularly ISIS-K – an opportunity to attack both the U.S. forces, as well as Afghan nationals and, indeed, the Taliban as well and just cause chaos that might prolong the U.S. stay in way that ISIS-K believes might suit their interests.

“So, it’s a very real threat to our aircraft, to our personnel, to people who have congregated around the airport.

“Whenever you have a mass gathering like that, it is an opportunity for improvised and other explosive devices. So, it’s a real danger.”

Rep. Schiff also said he believes it’s “very unlikely” that the U.S. will be able to finish its evacuation mission by August 31 – and that the U.S. should “maintain a military presence” as long as it takes to do the job:

“I think it’s possible, but I think it’s very unlikely. Given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders, it’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month.”

“Given the logistical difficulties of moving people to the airport and the limited number of workarounds, it’s hard for me to see that being fully complete by the end of the month. And I’m certainly of the view that we maintain a military presence as long as it’s necessary to get all U.S. persons out and to meet our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners.”

 

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