U.S. Officials Rush to Delete Online Pics of Afghan Allies

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U.S. Officials Rush to Delete Online Pics of Afghan Allies
People board a Spanish airforce A400 plane as part of an evacuation plan at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, Wednesday Aug. 18, 2021.
People board a Spanish airforce A400 plane as part of an evacuation plan at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, Wednesday Aug. 18, 2021.
Photo: Spanish Defense Ministry (AP)

Amid the catastrophe that’s been the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan this week, U.S. agencies have initiated sweeping purges of online information concerning friendly Afghan nationals. Fears have arisen that the country’s ruling Taliban could seek retaliation against individuals with even the slightest associations to the Americans and the shattered Afghan security forces.

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The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the U.S. departments of State and Agriculture, among others, were engaged in efforts to scrub websites and social media accounts of content that may be viewed as evidence of collaboration by the Taliban, whose unchallenged forces entered the capital city of Kabul on Sunday and swiftly assumed control.

One now-deleted article, for instance, reviewed by journalists at the AP, included photos of a town hall between U.S. agricultural officials and local Afghan leaders and farmers. On a page that now reads “Access Denied,” the article once noted that the attendees had “risk[ed] their safety” simply by attending the meeting.

The arrival of the Taliban—which first wrested control of Kabul from the Rabbani government during the Afghan Civil War, only to be expelled by U.S. forces within months of the September 11 attacks—set thousands of Afghans off on a deadly rush to the city’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, hoping to escape on out-bound planes.