A person managed to evade security vetting at Kabul airport and got on a British military plane to the United Kingdom despite being on Britain’s ‘No-Fly’ watchlist according to sources quoted by Sky News. The person was flown to Birmingham but cannot be returned to Afghanistan even if he poses a national security threat because of the humanitarian situation in the Taliban-controlled country.
Like in the United States, the No-Fly list in the UK identifies individuals who pose a serious security threat to the country. The watchlist is not designed for disruptive or unruly passengers and only intelligence agencies have the power to add or remove someone from the list.
The British government has refused to identify the person who managed to avoid detection on the watchlist amidst the chaos and confusion on the ground in Kabul. It is not known whether the person has been detained after officials finally became aware of what had happened overnight.
According to Sky News, the security breach was revealed during a briefing on the Afghanistan evacuation mission for members of partliament. At least five people on the UK’s No-Fly list have so far attempted to board British military planes from Kabul and four of those were identified and stopped before they made it out of Afghanistan.
A sixth person is believed to have been intercepted in Frankfurt, although it wasn’t immediately clear how he got to Germany in the first place.
Despite desperate scenes around Kabul airport, lawmakers were briefed on the importance of troops continuing to do background checks on people attempting to flee Afghanistan. There has been a surge in people using forged documents or impersonating others in an attempt to get on a plane out of the country.
“There are people in Afghanistan who represent a serious threat to national security and public safety,” a spokesperson for the British government said on Monday.
“That is why thorough checks are taking place by government, our world-class intelligence agencies and others. If some is assessed as presenting as a risk to our country, we will take action,” a statement from the government continued.
Troops on the ground have been tasked with completing security checks, while also getting as many refugees out of the country before the Taliban call time on the evacuation operation.
In a speech on Sunday, President Joe Biden took the time to emphasize that Afghan refugees would be security vetted in a third country before being allowed to board commercial planes to the United States.
“Planes taking off from Kabul are not flying directly to the United States. They’re landing at U.S. military bases and transit centers around the world,” he explained.. “At these sites where they are landing, we are conducting thorough … security screening for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.”
“Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check,” he continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.