About 600 American University of Afghanistan students, their families, and staff members are reportedly stranded on the ground in or near Kabul, and to make matters far worse and more dangerous, the Taliban knows who they are are.
On Sunday, after initially gathering at a safe house, they boarded and then waited in buses for seven hours before being denied access to the airport because of security threats at the gates, and the evacuation on U.S. military planes was called off.
“They told us: we have given your names to the Taliban. We are all terrified, there is no evacuation, there is no getting out,” one student told The New York Times. Information shared with the Taliban by U.S. military also reportedly included passport information.
“I regret to inform you that the high command at HKIA in the airport has announced there will be no more rescue flights,” the university grimly informed the left-behind students via email on Sunday afternoon, advising them to return home.
HKIA is Hamid Karzai International Airport, named after the Afghan president who led the country from late 2001 to September 2014.
U.S. military planners are being subject to intense criticism for abandoning operations at the more fortified Bagram military air base before the evacuation process was completed.
The situation at the Kabul airport obviously continues to be chaotic, including the devastating suicide bomb attack that killed 13 brave U.S. service members and nearly 200 Afghanis on Thursday.
Late Sunday, terrorists fired five rockets toward the airport that were intercepted by a U.S. anti-missile system.
Under President Joe Biden’s disastrous plan, the U.S. evacuation is still scheduled to end on Tuesday, August 31 when the remaining U.S. military contingent is supposed to exit the Afghan theater.
In a form of symbolism perhaps, the terrorist militia took control of the U.S.-funded American University as soon they entered Kabul in mid-August and raised the Taliban flag over the campus.
“The Taliban posted a picture of themselves on social media standing at the entrance of a university building with an ominous message, saying they were where America trained infidel ‘wolves’ to corrupt the minds of Muslims,” the Times recalled.
With a price tag of at least $160 million in taxpayer dollars, the university was one of the largest civilian projects by the United States Agency for International Development in Afghanistan.
The university president and some staffers managed to leave the country on August 14 as the Taliban advanced on the city following of the seemingly overnight collapse of the Afghan government and its military and police forces.
“The scholar pilgrims who were turned away today while seeking safe passage to a better future need the help of the U.S. government who gave them the hope they must not lose,” Ian Bickford, the president, asserted on Sunday.
“Bickford said in an interview last week that he was working with the State Department to evacuate about 1,200 students and alumni. But…after the deadly attack on the airport, Mr. Bickford said that effort had become much more complicated,” the Times noted.
In what must be the very last thing on the minds of students currently in harm’s way, Bickford “said the university was committed to ensuring all enrolled students would finish their degrees remotely.”
The U.S. State Department has so far declined to comment about the American University of Afghanistan students who are attempting to flee the country.
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