WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6) today released the following joint statement.
“We welcome the news that 113 Americans, U.S. permanent residents, and other western passport holders were allowed to leave Afghanistan and travel to Qatar.
“The fact remains, it was inexcusable that the Biden Administration allowed a terrorist regime to dictate the terms of allowing Americans to leave on their own with their families. The United States does not take orders from terrorists.
“Right now, hundreds of Americans and lawful permanent residents, as well as thousands of Afghan SIVs and other vulnerable Afghans, are trapped behind enemy lines. The Biden Administration has not been forthright about the actual number who remain. They must provide Congress and the American people with a full accounting along with a plan to get them safely out of Afghanistan.
“The Biden Administration must continue to force pressure on the Taliban to allow the safe passage of Americans, lawful permanent residents, and their families to leave Afghanistan. Any agreement to allow safe passage should not be paired with the promises of U.S aid, dropping of terrorists from U.S.. or other sanctions lists, or the release of frozen financial assets. That would, in effect, be a ransom. It is clear to both of us that the Taliban are seeking to hold family members of American visa holders hostage to gain leverage over the United States.
“Additionally, we call on the Biden Administration to demand the release of U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs who has been held hostage for over a year by the Haqqani Network, the leader of which was just appointed to the Taliban cabinet. It is inexcusable that his release was not secured prior to the full withdrawal of American military forces and diplomats.”