California boy, 3, is among as many as 200 Americans left stranded in Afghanistan after his family suffered ‘physical beatings’ by Taliban while trying to pass checkpoint before Biden ended evacuations
A three-year old American boy and his family are stranded in Afghanistan after they were met with ‘physical beatings’ by the Taliban when trying to pass a checkpoint to flee the country before President Biden’s August 31 evacuation deadline.
The boy and his family are among the 100 to 200 Americans who were left in the country after the last flight carrying US forces departed Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 p.m. ET on August 30.
According to a passport for the boy, which was obtained by ABC 7, he was born near Sacramento and is a US citizen. So is his father, a social worker, and the rest of his family, whose identities the news outlet is concealing to keep them safe from the Taliban.
“I received a call Sunday morning at about 6am from a friend of mine who’s an active duty Marine Corps officer stationed overseas, and he basically felt like his hands were tied and he needed some help getting this family out,’ James Brown, a veterans advocate, told ABC 7.
A three-year old boy and his family were blocked by the Taliban when trying to evacuate Afghanistan. Above is a passport for the boy, which was obtained by ABC 7
Brown reached out to Democratic California Representative Jackie Speier who he said ‘made numerous phone calls to the White House, to the Secretary of Defense’s Office, and to the Secretary of State’s office escalating this family’s case all the way to the top for us.”
Speier wrote a letter on the family’s behalf to present at the Kabul airport, which read, “I believe it is of particular and urgent concern that these individuals be allowed to pass through the gate and be given safe refuge at Hamid Karzai International Airport … so that they might be available for departure.”
But when the family presented the letter at airport, they were violently attacked by the Taliban. Brown said, ‘They were stopped by a Taliban checkpoint, and they received physical beatings at the gate and they were pushed back where they had to flee and return to a safe house.”
As of late Monday night, ABC 7 learned that the family has joined with a number of other Americans striving to escape Afghanistan. The final push to get Americans out of the country left many unable to make it to the airport in Kabul without being physically blocked by the Taliban.
Samiullah “Sammy” Naderi, a 23-year old American from Philadelphia, waited for a week outside the airport with his wife and son as they attempted to get on a flight.
“It’s 50 feet away,” Naderi, told the New York Times in a phone interview over the sound of gunfire crackling in the background. “Maybe the Taliban will let me inside — maybe.”
But after the final flight on Monday, Naderi was left with no way out. “All flights are closed,” he said. “I am scared.”
Two families with students from the Cajon Valley Union School District are still trying to evacuate
Six other families were flown safely out of the terrorist-controlled country last week and started school on Aug. 17, but another two are unaccounted for
Six families from El Cajon, a suburb in San Diego, were flown safely out of the terrorist-controlled country last week, but another two are unaccounted for, according to the Cajon Valley Union School District.
The district has been working with Republican California Representative Darrell Issa to coordinate the return of its students and their families. The district found out on Aug. 16 that eight families with children enrolled in the district were striving to evacuate Afghanistan after a relative of one of the families alerted school officials that their children would miss the first day of the school year on Aug. 17.
The families went to Afghanistan on separate occasions between May and early June, but became trapped once the crisis unfolded. One family consisting of two adults and five children returned back to the US on August 26 and two other families were confirmed safely out of Afghanistan the following day, according to a press release from the Cajon Valley Union School District.
The district wrote in a press release that administration ‘remains in collaboration with Congressman Issa’s team. They are working diligently to help our families to return home.’
‘Counseling support has and will be available at the school sites and district for all students in need. The Cajon Valley Family And Community Engagement Department is ready and able to support Cajon Valley families and connect them to needed resources. Cajon Valley Union School District Community and Staff wait with open arms for the safe return of all of our families.’
In an interview with San Diego news station KUSI, Issa said, ‘My office is working on three specific groups of Americans who went to the gate and were not able to get through. It’s much more personal to those of us in this office that we left 22 hours early with people who stood at the gate and were not allowed to get in.’
Fox News aired a photo of the pregnant American citizen, who was trying to escape Kabul with her father and husband but is now in hiding
He referenced the El Cajon families and added, ‘A lot of Americans did exactly what they were told to do, they went to where they were told, sometimes multiple times, and they didn’t get out. I’m not gonna quite, my office isn’t gonna quit, until we have every single person that we are in contact with – and there may be more as we go through this – out by some means.’
Meanwhile, a pregnant American woman is also trapped in Afghanistan after she was forced into hiding when the Taliban blocked her at a checkpoint and kicked her in the stomach as she tried to flee with her husband.
‘She was kicked in the stomach, but she was kicked in the stomach well after – as she got through the first checkpoint for hours, waiting for those people at the south point to supposedly come and get her,’ the lawmaker said.
‘It wasn’t until it was clear they had closed, they weren’t taking anyone else for quite a while that finally, she accepted that she was going to have to go back and hide in her apartment.’
She never made it onto a US military evacuation flight. The last C-17 jet carried the remainder of troops on the ground, embassy staff including Ambassador Ross Wilson, and Major General Christopher Donahue.
No American civilians were on the last five flights to leave.
Before US forces left, Issa said the woman made ‘multiple trips’ to the airport.
‘We’ve agreed that she’s going to stay sheltered in place, hiding her identity and hoping that her friends will continue to bring her food and keep her secret until frankly we can come up with something new,’ he said.
California Rep. Darrell Issa is working to help Americans still trapped in Kabul
As recently as three hours ago, Issa’s team had been working with the trapped American on a ‘possible alternative’ involving a third party group, but was deemed to be ‘too dangerous.’
An elderly couple in their 80s are also in contact with the congressman after being trapped in Kabul.
Issa said they ‘repeatedly went to the gate, waited at the gate with their blue passports, and did not get in.’
Those accounts stand in stark contrast to President Joe Biden’s promise to get every American out of Afghanistan before the military ends its 20-year occupation.
‘If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,’ he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on August 18.
Issa said: ‘Anyone that says that they didn’t break a promise to the American people and leave people behind is wrong. Anyone who says that there aren’t people stranded is wrong.’
Taliban fighters celebrated at Hamid Karzai International Airport after the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan
Taliban fighters gather along a street during a rally in Kabul on August 31 as they celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of the country
‘These people were stranded, they did everything they were supposed to do and they simply were not a priority at the end.’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that a ‘small number’ of Americans remain who want to leave the war-torn country.
‘We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,’ he said in a speech at the State Department Monday night – with remarks delayed for more than two hours.
The number was somewhat lower than estimates in the final hours as the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal deadline approached.
He said ‘about’ 6,000 Americans had been flown out of the country or departed in an airlift of 123,000 people.
Blinken vowed to use diplomacy and leverage to bring out any Americans, allies, or Afghanis who assisted the US and want to leave, as critics pounded Biden for allowing the withdrawal before all Americans were out, comparing those who remained to hostages.
Blinken mentioned land routes through Afghanistan’s rough terrain. Here Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces personnel patrol along a road in Rah-e Tang of Panjshir province on August 29, 2021
‘We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country,’ he said.
He said the US and allies plan to hold the Taliban to keep the airport open and allow safe passage. ‘Any engagement with the Taliban-led government in Kabul will be driven by one thing only – our vital national interests,’ he said.
He also mentioned new ways out – including ‘overland routes,’ which means driving across Afghanistan’s famously inhospitable terrain.
‘We have no illusion that any of this will be easy or rapid,’ Blinken said, calling it an ‘entirely different phase of the evacuation.’
‘We will hold the Taliban to their commitment on freedom of movement,’ he said – on a day when US forces departed the airport in Kabul, leaving it intact, while scuttling aircraft that were left behind.
That commitment will likely be tested in the coming days. Since the US pullout accounts of Americans and Afghan interpreters who were left behind by Biden’s withdrawal have been trickling in through US media outlets.
An American citizen who worked as an interpreter for the US military during the war in Afghanistan told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday night that she is now stranded.
The woman spoke under the pseudonym ‘Sara’ to protect her identity.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday interviewed ‘Sara,’ an American national who was left stranded in Afghanistan after the US military removed the last remaining troops from the country just hours before
She described how she was sheltering 37 women and children in her home as she tried to organize them safe passage out of the country.
But she was unaware that the last US plane was leaving, after US forces completed their withdrawal almost 24 hours ahead of their August 31st deadline.
‘I just found out that they left, and I was just silent for a while,’ the woman, who goes by the pseudonym ‘Sara,’ told CNN on Monday.
‘I just can’t believe no one told me this was the last flight’.
Sara said that she has tried to help Afghans who had helped American forces during the 20-year war flee after the Taliban took control of Kabul.
She says there are nearly two dozen children in her home in Afghanistan, some of whom are disabled. The children have begged her to help get them out of the country.
Sara added: ‘And I just went, walked around the rooms, and I saw the young kids are sleeping and they have no clue what happened this morning, that the last flight is gone and we’re left behind.’
Since she worked as an interpreter with the US military, she and anyone who comes into contact with her are in danger from the Taliban, she said.
‘We are in danger, and we need to be saved,’ the woman told CNN.
‘I just don’t even know what to say to you. Whoever was trying to help me and support me, even they did not tell me that…this was the last flight.
‘So I still had hope that we would leave. If not all of them, at least some kids and some mothers who had disabled kids.
‘I had hope for them.’
Taliban gunmen lit up the night sky over Kabul with tracer fire after the final US military transport plane left the airport
Fireworks, gunfire and explosions erupted in Kabul’s night sky as the Taliban celebrated victory over the US and declared ‘full independence’ after the final flight left the city’s airport carrying troops and diplomats just after midnight
Sara told CNN that before the American forces departed for good, she went to the Kabul airport and tried to get the attention of US military personnel.
She said she screamed in their direction that she was an American national but that the soldiers didn’t hear her. The crowd at the gate was then dispersed using tear gas, though it is unclear who fired the irritant.
Sara said she had all of the necessary permits and documents for her and special immigrant visa applicants, but instead the military airlifted Afghans who did not have paperwork that entitled them to leave the country.
‘If America could not help me when they were on the ground, how can they help me when they’re gone?’ she said.
‘Is anyone going to rescue me?’
‘I went to so many different missions with [the US] military, so many different missions in different provinces,’ she said.
‘I never had that heartbeat like I have it today, this morning, when they told me the Americans left. They left us to whom? To those people who were always wanting to kill us?
‘And now I am by myself here with 37 people.’
Meanwhile Taliban gunfire and fireworks lit up the night sky over Kabul to celebrate the American withdrawal, with celebrations continuing into Tuesday.
Fake coffins draped with the British, American, French and NATO flags were paraded through the streets of Khost in Afghanistan today as the Taliban celebrated the end of western ‘occupation’
The Taliban held mock funerals for American, British, French and NATO forces Tuesday as thousands turned out on the streets of major cities to celebrate the end of the west’s 20-year war.
Coffins draped with the US, UK and French flags as well as NATO’s insignia were paraded through the streets of Khost by crowds flying the Taliban’s emblem – just two weeks after anti-Taliban protests in the same city.
In Kandahar – a traditional stronghold of the Islamists – thousands also turned out waving white Taliban flags to celebrate what the group is referring to as its ‘independence day’, hours after the final American troops boarded an evacuation flight out of the country.
Speaking from the runway at Kabul airport this morning – and surrounded by Taliban special forces units dressed head to toe in American gear – spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid hailed the ‘victory’ over western forces.
‘It is an historical day and an historical moment…. we liberated our country from a great power,’ he added, saying the last 20 years should serve as a ‘big lesson for other invaders [and] a lesson for the world.’