At least four chartered planes with several hundred intended passengers have been unable to leave the country for days, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. An Afghan official told the news wire that many of the Afghans booked on those flights lacked passports or visas, and had left the airport while the situation was being sorted out, but Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that the group included Americans unable to leave the country, who "the Taliban is holding… hostage for demands right now.”
Pressed by anchor Chris Wallace for details, the Texas lawmaker said six planes have “sat at the airport for the last couple days” but haven’t been cleared by the Taliban to depart. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange,” McCaul stated. “This is really, Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they're not gonna allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
The United States’ evacuation and withdrawal missions were completed last week. At the time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said roughly 100-200 U.S. citizens who wanted to leave the country were still in Afghanistan. On Sunday, McCaul claimed there were still “hundreds of American citizens” who were left behind.