A leading MP who served with the army in Afghanistan has said the UK “may find ourselves with the biggest hostage crisis ever seen” as evacuations from Kabul end.
Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, said it would be asking exactly how many eligible people have been left behind after the final UK flight leaves Afghanistan.
He told Sky News: “There’s a possibility we may find ourselves with the biggest hostage crisis the UK has ever seen.
“Over 3,000 entitled people were said to be in Afghanistan at the beginning of the process, I don’t know how many now, but we’ll be asking about that.
“And we’ll be looking to see what that means for getting British citizens out, what that means for getting entitled people out and protecting those people who are, quite rightly, literally in fear of their lives now.”
Mr Tugendhat, who helped set up Afghanistan’s national security council and the government in Helmand province, said the committee would be looking into what happened during the evacuation, the process that led up to it and “what this means going forward”.
He said he is contacting people in the region that he knows, including envoys and former warlords, to try to get vulnerable Afghans who have been left behind by the British out of Afghanistan.
Announcing the UK stopped processing people for evacuation at 4.30am BST on Friday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The sad fact is not every single one will get out.”
He said those left behind should try to get to a border and the UK will make sure its visa processing facilities in neighbouring countries are doing all they can.
Mr Tugendhat said: “The reality is it’s very very difficult terrain and a lot of neighbouring states, quite rightly, are looking to protect themselves from the type of terrorism we’ve just seen in Kabul.
“I’m very, very concerned for anybody who’s been left behind.”
The MP was damning about the US decision to pull out of Afghanistan now, which meant the UK had to also leave.
“This is a political decision, a decision very unwisely made and one we will be paying for, this is not a military defeat,” he added.
He also hit out at US officials in Kabul who gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled area outside Kabul airport.
“I find it absolutely extraordinary, I barely have words to say how stunned I am that anybody would consider this a good idea,” he said.
“We all, in the very basic security of our lives, are increasingly careful about our own data security because somebody could hack our bank account or post something claiming to be us on the internet.
“This is just a league beyond that, this is quite literally giving information to somebody who you know is trying to kill them.
“It’s completely extraordinary.”
Earlier, General Lord Richard Dannatt, a former head of the British Army, called the US sharing of intelligence with the Taliban about people trying to flee Afghanistan a “dangerous game”.
He told Sky News: “I think it is a dangerous game. It’s a matter where expediency comes in. I think it’s a case of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’.
“We are in many dimensions of least-worst situations. We do worry that information has been passed about those who we were trying to get out, who we failed to get out, that the Taliban do know who they are and this places them under great threat.”