British ex-soldier is ARRESTED by the Taliban as his bid to evacuate 400 Afghans fails: Islamists order him to leave evacuees behind – despite promising people were free to leave the country
- Ben Slater was arrested on Thursday morning after attempting border crossing
- The 37-year-old was trying to evacuate 400 Afghans, including 50 staff
- The former Royal Military Police member runs a chain of NGOs in Afghanistan
- He was questioned about his staff, many of whom are single women that had been staying in a hotel near a border checkpoint
- Slater was released and told he could leave country with one other staff member
- The others would have to remain in Afghanistan, the Taliban told him
- Slater is now attempting to get visas for his staff, and feels let down by the FCDO
A former British soldier has been arrested by the Taliban while attempting to evacuate 400 Afghans.
Ben Slater, 37, was thrown in prison on Thursday morning and questioned regarding members of his 50 staff, most of whom are single women and had been staying in hotel rooms near a border checkpoint.
The former member of the Royal Military Police runs a chain of NGOs in Afghanistan, and had been attempting to evacuate his staff over a land border after failing to secure spots for them and their families on the British airlift from Kabul.
However, his mission failed after a coach carrying the staff was turned away at a land border. It is not clear which country the coach was attempting to cross into.
Slater was released later on Thursday and told he could cross the border with one assistant, but that the rest of his staff had to remain in Afghanistan, The Telegraph reported.
He told the paper that he will try to secure visas for his staff from the UK or another Western country.
Slater once again called on the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to help get them out of Afghanistan.
Ben Slater (pictured) was thrown in prison on Thursday morning and questioned regarding members of his 50 staff, most of whom are single women and had been staying in hotel rooms near a border checkpoint
‘The final blow to the op is that the UK are only granting myself and one of my executive assistants over the border today, and they haven’t even suggested they are going to issue the visas for some or the rest of my group,’ he told The Telegraph.
‘It’s a complete disaster really. It’s disgusting. It’s beyond horrible.’
The FCDO has advised British citizens still in Afghanistan to make their way back to the UK via a third country.
However, Kabul airport is not operational following the U.S. withdrawal on Monday and the UK Government did not make arrangements with the countries sharing a land border with Afghanistan to facilitate escape routes prior to the fall of Kabul on August 15.
Slater shared his plans to escape via a land border with the FCDO and the Ministry of Defence in the hope he would receive assistance as soon as possible.
The attempt came amid concerns that leaving Afghanistan by land will be near impossible due to closed borders, abandoned foreign embassies and Taliban checkpoints.
According to the Telegraph, Mr Slater had already helped dozens of Afghans flee the country but was unable to secure help for his staff, who he says are at risk of retribution from the Taliban.
The attempt came amid concerns that leaving Afghanistan by land will be near impossible due to closed borders, abandoned foreign embassies and Taliban checkpoints
Prior to attempting the land escape, Slater described himself as being ‘massively let down’ by the UK Government.
He told The Telegraph: ‘I was given one hour’s notice to send in my people’s names, the vehicles and stuff like that.
‘And that seemed a little bit like that was set up for me to miss the deadline. But we did it, and then it went sort of quiet, and then there was a little bit of “oh, you can’t come because you can’t get through the Taliban checkpoint”.’
Slater eventually ‘lost his marbles’ after he was apparently transferred to an automated call centre and was put ‘back at zero’.
He says he then launched his own operation to save the 400 Afghan nationals including the 50 staff and himself.
Although the Taliban has made assurances that they will allow those fleeing their rule to leave the country unharmed, Slater is concerned that this will not turn out to be the case.
The Telegraph reported an FCDO spokesperson as saying: ‘More than 15,000 people including British nationals, our Afghan staff and others at risk have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK since 15 August in one of the biggest operations of its kind in history,’
‘We will continue to do all we can to deliver on our obligation to get British nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country while the security situation allows.’
The former member of the Royal Military Police (pictured) runs a chain of NGOs in Afghanistan, and had been attempting to evacuate his staff over a land border after failing to secure spots for them and their families on the British airlift from Kabul