Nicknamed the Glory Gate, the back entrance was hidden from the Taliban and was used to evacuate embassy staff and others.
“The gas station was where our men held Afghans,” said a former CIA operative who was looking to leave.
Initially, it was used to smuggle priority matters to the CIA, including intelligence assets, local agents and their families, and lists of high-importance cases sent from the White House. Later, the entrance was expanded to become the main conduit for the State Department’s efforts in the final 48 hours of a civilian evacuation mission to help vulnerable Afghans working at the US embassy and others who made it through Taliban checkpoints. Could not block access to the airport. .
The temporary entrance was built from HESCO barriers, barbed wire and concrete blast walls that were moved by forklift to provide a layer of security to operators at the entrance.
Afghans passing through the gate, either on foot or in buses, were traced behind the walls of the blast, and then driven several hundred yards along a concrete track and over a bridge to an American base, which had previously been It was a part of what was known as Camp Alvarado. of airport premises. The CIA later opened a second secret gate along the northern perimeter. The CIA declined to comment. The CIA’s role in Gate’s operation was described by current and former US officials as well as nonprofits involved in the evacuation effort. The State Department declined to comment on the role of the CIA.
John Bass, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan who had been chosen to lead the evacuation effort, described the difficulty of working with the Taliban, and a handful of chokepoints all dealing with huge crowds of desperate people. Trying to reach the airport via
“On any given day, well, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to get through to 100 people or 5,000 people,” he said.
The State Department arranged for Americans and permanent residents to enter the airport in buses that passed through the nearby Interior Ministry, a process that required crossing Taliban checkpoints. Efforts to bring Afghans through the same route ran into hurdles after the Taliban demanded the disclosure of their names and thrashed and harassed those passengers.