Air Force reveals attempted hijacking of Afghan evacuation flight

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Journalists working in-house for the Air Force revealed Wednesday that hijackers attempted to gain control of a flight leaving Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport amidst the chaotic evacuation efforts in August.

The revelation was made about midway through an Air Force News Service feature about the work of Air Force rescuers in Afghanistan. 

According to the AFNS article, Air Force personnel recovery task force members received intelligence of the hijacking and took steps to protect the passengers, crew, and plane. The Air Force did not provide details as to what actions were taken.

“Our team worked to get them clear of the NATO ramp, relocated to the north side away from friendly forces, then ultimately onto the south side where the situation was handled,” Lt. Col. Brian Desautels, 71st Rescue Squadron and Personnel Recovery Task Force commander, said in the article. 

The article details the pandemonium that ensued as thousands of Afghans attempted to flee their nation as the Taliban stormed back into power.  

Videos emerged of would-be passengers desperately trying to gain access to flights, with some attempting to cling to the outside of departing jets. 

Desautels said that the matter was even more dire than that, as jets missed crashing into throngs of people by a matter of feet. 

The article also states that Air Force personnel faced sniper fire and the threat of terrorist attacks. 

“I’ll never forget that feeling or sensation that we felt, like we were launching aircraft to save our lives,” Desautels said in the article.

He added, “It was impressive to see the discipline of U.S. forces not to use lethal force when they were facing insurmountable odds, against an unknown threat with known weapons.”

In late August, an ISIS suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. service members as well as hundreds of Afghans, a sad episode that the article also describes in more detail. 

“There were lots of very badly injured people hurt … lots of blood,” Desautels said. “The surgeons were worn out. Many died on the operating table.” 

Afghanistan has a long connection to hijackings and, prior to the United States’ entry into the country in 2001, had proven to be a haven for terrorists. 

Most infamously, Afghanistan was the location from which the September 11, 2001, attacks were orchestrated; but there have been other terrorist attacks born out of the country as well.

In 1999, terrorists landed Indian Airlines Flight 814, which was bound from Nepal for India, in Kandahar.