UK Defence Minister: Evacuation of Afghan on ‘No-Fly’ List Wasn’t Security Fail

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
August 24, 2021 Updated: August 24, 2021

The British defence minister has insisted that the security system was working as it should do when an Afghan who was on a “no-fly” watchlist landed in the UK on an evacuation flight.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that the term “no-fly” refers to a broader category of watchlists and requirements and doesn’t mean a simple automatic refusal to board an aeroplane.

Other media reports, which cannot be confirmed by The Epoch Times, claim that MPs were told four other individuals have been denied applications to come to the UK over security concerns.

Wallace was responding to reports, later confirmed by the government, that an individual who was on a “no-fly” list on Aug. 23 arrived back in the UK, before being released following security checks.

“It’s not as straightforward as fly/no-fly,” he told LBC radio. “Some of them are basically just checked before they fly,” he said. “We generically call it a no-fly list.”

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “The no-fly list has many sub divisions, it could be this individual … [was categorised as] no-fly until they are checked, it could be that there are lots of different conditions before they fly. It is not necessarily that they are so dangerous they can’t get on an aeroplane.”

He added, “I wouldn’t be as alarmed as some of the media headlines are about this individual and I would also take some comfort from this process [that it] is working and flagging people.”

Wallace said that the UK had to strike a balance between getting out as many people as possible from Kabul, and the need to properly vet for security risks.

Nearly 8,500 people have now been evacuated from Afghanistan by the UK since Aug. 13, according to the latest figures from the Department of Defence.

In a update on Operation Pitting, the Ministry of Defence said on Twitter: “8,458 people have been evacuated by the UK since 13 August. 5,171 of those people are Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy claimants. Nine UK military flights have left Kabul in the last 24 hours.”

Wallace said the danger at Kabul airport will rise the closer the evacuation effort gets to the departure deadline.

He told Sky News, “It just gets more and more dangerous as add-on groups and other terrorist groups such as IS[IS] would like to be seen to take greater credit, or like to be seen to chase the West out of the airport, that is inevitably going to feed their narrative and their ambitions.”

Wallace said using British troops to secure Kabul airport after the United States pulls out wasn’t an option.

“It’s not about effectively whether I could fly in thousands of troops and secure the airport,” He told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme. “Yes, I could do that, I could probably secure the airport for a few months, or maybe a year or two.

“But for what purpose? For them to be shot at, attacked, people not to get to the airport and to trigger just a permanent fight?”

PA contributed to this report

Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.