Airlift of Evil
The Airlift of Evil refers to the evacuation of thousands of Pakistani military personnel, Afghan sympathizers, and some members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda from the city of Kunduz during the week before its capture by the forces of the Northern Alliance during the early days of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present).
The idea that the American military had aided the escape of potentially dangerous individuals was politically contentious, and sparked a debate in the western media. The first reference to the term appeared in a column on msnbc.com. It is generally thought that the airlift was an attempt to avoid destabilizing the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who, although an ally in the War on Terror, had historically supported the Taliban.
In 2008, more details emerged in Descent into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid:
One senior (U.S.) intelligence analyst told me, "The request was made by Musharraf to Bush, but Cheney took charge—a token of who was handling Musharraf at the time. The approval was not shared with anyone at State, including Colin Powell, until well after the event. Musharraf said Pakistan needed to save its dignity and its valued people. Two planes were involved, which made several sorties a night over several nights. They took off from air bases in Chitral and Gilgit in Pakistan's northern areas, and landed in Kunduz, where the evacuees were waiting on the tarmac. Certainly hundreds and perhaps as many as one thousand people escaped. Hundreds of ISI officers, Taliban commanders, and foot soldiers belonging to the IMU and al Qaeda personnel boarded the planes. What was sold as a minor extraction turned into a major air bridge. The frustrated U.S. SOF who watched it from the surrounding high ground dubbed it "Operation Evil Airlift." Another senior U.S. diplomat told me afterward, "Musharraf fooled us because after we gave approval, the ISI may have run a much bigger operation and got out more people. We just don't know. At the time nobody wanted to hurt Musharraf, and his prestige with the army was at stake. The real question is why Musharraf did not get his men out before. Clearly the ISI was running its own war against the Americans and did not want to leave Afghanistan until the last moment."
^ Hersh, Seymour M. (2002-01-28). "The Getaway". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
^ Moran, Michael (2001-11-29). "The ‘airlift of evil’". msnbc.com. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
^ George, Marcus (2001-11-26). "Kunduz celebrates end of siege". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia