Today's D Brief: State’s new Afghan evac plans; Plane nearly hijacked in Kabul; Violence returns to Beirut; ‘Terrorism’ in Norway; And a bit more.
Wishful thinking? The U.S. wants “regular evacuation flights” out of Afghanistan to begin before the end of December, the Wall Street Journal reports Thursday morning from officials at Foggy Bottom.
Behind the scenes: “The State Department has yet to schedule a date to resume evacuation flights because it is still working through arrangements with neighboring countries,” a State Department official told the Journal. Some of the delays include lining up “documentation for travelers, permission to fly over other countries and procedures with the Taliban and foreign governments.”
One big hurdle: “The Taliban are requiring most Afghan travelers to have passports, a problem for some Afghans who fear they are at risk of retaliation” for working with the U.S. and its allies. Indeed, “Some have destroyed their documents or no longer have access to them.” Read on here.
ICYMI: A commercial plane was nearly hijacked leaving Kabul in the chaotic days of the Afghanistan evacuation, Defense One’s Tara Copp reported Wednesday.
Say what? Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Desautels, commander of the 71st Rescue Squadron and the personnel recovery task force, said in an Air Force release that after receiving intel about five people planning to hijack the commercial aircraft, “Our team worked to get them clear of the NATO ramp, relocated to the north side away from friendly forces, then ultimately onto the south side where the situation was handled.”
In the meantime, “A couple thousand” additional evacuees have been able to leave Afghanistan since the Aug. 31 end to the official evacuation “as a rare pairing of Biden administration staff and private organizations try to finish the work of the largest, most chaotic, and most dangerous emergency airlift in U.S. history,” Copp writes. About 100 private groups, mainly run by Afghanistan veterans, have stayed in the country to help complete the evacuation. Read more at Defense One, here.
From Defense One
The Inventor of the Taser and the Body Cam Wants to Put Them on Drones // Patrick Tucker: His pitch: non-lethal, robotically deployed Tasers can change the face of war.
An Afghanistan Evac Flight Was Almost Hijacked, Air Force Reveals // Tara Copp: While the chaos at HKIA is over, the effort to evacuate Afghans is not. Here’s how the U.S. is still getting people out.
Head of Pentagon Foreign Arms Sales Division Stepping Down After 15 Months on the Job // Marcus Weisgerber: Heidi Grant was the first civilian to lead the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Will Americans Buy into Biden’s Ambitious Domestic Terrorism Plan? // Karen J. Greenberg: The president’s national strategy pivots the United States away from the worst practices of the war on terrorism—if law enforcement, courts, and agencies will follow.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisc. The bullet went through his steel eyeglass case and a folded 50-page copy of his speech for later that afternoon, but Roosevelt determined it hadn’t gone deep enough to send him to the hospital. So he delivered his 90-minute speech with that bullet lodged into his chest. He would carry it there until his death almost seven years later. His attempted assassin was found to be insane and sent to a hospital, where he remained until his death in 1943.
Gunfire has broken out in Beirut today and now six people are dead after a Hezbollah-linked protest turned violent in the streets of the storied Mediterranean coastal city. The Lebanese Red Cross said 30 others were wounded in the shooting. And shortly after it began, the Lebanese military arrived on scene and tweeted out a warning that its soldiers “will fire on anyone who is armed and present on the streets and at anyone that shoots from anywhere else.”
FWIW: Lebanon’s 15-year civil war “ended in 1990, but Thursday’s battles were fought along the fault lines that divided the city 21 years ago,” the Wall Street Journal reports from Beirut.
President Biden welcomes his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta, to the White House this afternoon. Biden plans to discuss nearly a dozen non-military topics with the president of Kenya, which neighbors Somalia and hosts a small contingent of U.S. troops—a contingent that was attacked by al-Shabaab fighters on Jan. 2020, killing one U.S. soldier and two contractors. But “advanc[ing] peace and security” is also on the day’s agenda, so the fight against al-Shabaab could figure in.
Bow-and-arrow ‘terrorism’ leaves 5 dead outside of Oslo. Norwegian authorities are treating the death of five people in the small town of Kongsberg as an act of terrorism, a regional police chief said today, hours after a suspect attacked what seemed to be random strangers at a grocery store and on the streets of Kongsberg Wednesday evening around 6 p.m. local time.
Police arrested the suspect—a 37-year-old Danish man suspected of being radicalized into militant Islam—30 minutes after he first reportedly attacked using a bow and arrow and allegedly other weapons that have yet to be named by law enforcement officials. However, a regional prosecutor told the Associated Press the arrested suspect “clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people.” Reuters has more on the “signs of radicalization” behind this tragic episode, here.
Lastly today: The U.S. Army is hitting pause on its augmented reality headset program with Microsoft, which is worth almost $22 billion, Janes reported Wednesday.
Left unanswered: Why it happened, and what impact it might have, both Janes and The Drive emphasize—with the latter going into past developmental missteps, like devices that don’t function in the rain, e.g. At any rate, “the decision is certainly not good news for the immediate future of a program the service had been touting as potentially game-changing for individual soldiers,” Joseph Trevithick writes. Read on, here.