Taliban seizing Afghan-American’s US passports outside airport

0
53
Taliban seizing Afghan-American’s US passports outside airport

KABUL, Afghanistan — Scenes of chaos and calamity continue to unfold in and around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, as thousands of embattled Afghans purport to push through Taliban barricades and escape the country before the Taliban takes full power.

In the latest blow to those running up against the clock, Afghan-Americans on Thursday said that Taliban fighters are now attempting to take their U.S. passports and identification orders in an attempt to stop them from leaving the country.

“I got to the gates and was about to show my passport, but the Taliban got it, and he said you are not allowed to go through and wouldn’t give it back,” one Afghan-American, who served for several years as an interpreter during the war and has his home in the U.S but requested anonymity for safety reasons, said. “I was lucky a U.S. marine was right there and forced him to give it back.”

According to several others, some have not been so lucky — hamstringing their chance to make it home ahead of the Taliban’s officially assuming of the throne.

Hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghan-Americans said Taliban fighters are now attempting to take their U.S. passports and identification to stop them from leaving the country.
AP

“U.S. passports, driver’s licenses — they are confiscating those pieces of documentation from American citizens,” said Ephraim Mattos, a former Navy SEAL and founder of the humanitarian organization, Stronghold Rescue and Relief, which is working around the clock to evacuate Afghans interpreters and helpers. “They lose proof of who they are, and this has happened on multiple occasions in multiple places.”

President Joe Biden on Friday said they “know of no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport” and not able to reach the airport.

“We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban,” Biden said. “So we know of no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport for trying to get through to the airport, but we will do whatever needs to be done to see to get more

Other Afghan-Americans describe scenes of crowds getting crushed and even infant babies getting injured, of brutal beatings by some Taliban members to push back the sea of frenzied faces.

Initially, Afghan Special Forces were said to control some of the key roads toward the airport. But soon after darkness fell on Wednesday, the Taliban is said to have taken over. Minute-by-minute, the scene is simply becoming direr as the insurgency cements a more formidable grasp over the city’s checkpoints and routes.

Several U.S. officials also affirmed that the Taliban on Thursday ratcheted up its crackdown encircling the airport.

The group’s leadership has vowed to protect all Afghans and assured no acts of revenge would be tolerated, while at the same time stressing that citizens of the beleaguered country should not leave.

Meanwhile, in Herat, more than a week after the Taliban seized the provincial capital, residents have continued to paint a chilling portrait of intimidation as the waiting game for the U.S. departure draws near.

“Taliban are searching home by home in Herat and asking about me,” one business owner with long-term ties to the United States, who is currently in an undisclosed location outside of Afghanistan, said. “Then others came to the Kabul office and asked about the company and our clients and warned they would search for information.”

It is a jarring fact of simply not knowing what lies ahead, driving much of the desperation forward.“These people are our allies; we fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them. I saw them fight just as bravely as any American soldier, and they deserve our support. What our country is doing to them now is a complete disgrace,” Mattos added. “What is happening is significantly worse than Saigon.”

Source link