Trump’s Overstated Assertion of Numerous Americans as ‘Hostages’ in Afghanistan

Trump’s exaggerates claim that many Americans are ‘hostages’ in Afghanistan

When former President Donald Trump critiques President Joe Biden’s handling of the 2021 American withdrawal from Afghanistan, he often highlights what his campaign alleges are numerous U.S. citizens still stranded in a nation now governed by the Taliban. Trump’s assertion, echoed by some Democrats, underscores concerns regarding the chaotic nature of the exit.

Reflecting on recent successes during Super Tuesday victories, Trump lamented, “For 18 months, we lost nobody in Afghanistan. And then we had that horrible, horrible withdrawal where we lost 13 soldiers, 38 horribly wounded, left Americans behind.” He continued, labeling those left behind as potentially “hostages.”

In a campaign-released video, Trump reiterated these claims, stating, “We have many American people still living in Afghanistan, probably as hostages.”

Trump
Trump (Credits: The New York Times)

Contrary to Trump’s assertions, two senior Biden administration national security officials informed NBC News that the Taliban is detaining two Americans, whom the U.S. government is actively working to secure the release of. However, they clarified that other Americans remaining in Afghanistan have chosen to stay.

Addressing concerns, a State Department spokesperson explained the complexity of estimating the exact number of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, citing the flux of departures and returns since the closure of the U.S. embassy.

One of the detained Americans, Ryan Corbett, established a microfinance company in Afghanistan during the conflict, sought refuge with U.S. assistance in 2021, and later returned in 2022. Reports from former cellmates highlight the challenging conditions Corbett faces under Taliban custody, despite not facing any charges.

While the administration refrained from disclosing the identity of the second detainee, they clarified that this individual entered Afghanistan post-evacuation on a tourist visa.

Trump
Trump (Credits: CNN)

Notably, over 67,000 Afghans have applied for special immigrant visas designed for locals who aided U.S. efforts, with 20,000 deemed eligible and advancing through the process.

Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan has witnessed violence against Afghan security forces and implemented restrictive policies, such as barring girls over 11 from attending school, generating additional concerns, especially among Afghan women seeking to leave the country.

Karoline Leavitt, a Trump spokesperson, stood by the former president’s criticisms, emphasizing Biden’s perceived abandonment of Americans in Afghanistan and the tragic loss of 13 U.S. service members during the Abbey Gate attack.

She asserted, “President Trump is absolutely right to call out Joe Biden for his betrayal of Americans in Afghanistan… Now the Taliban has regained control of the country using billions of dollars of our military equipment, and radical terrorists are emboldened across the entire region.”