Stunned American citizen and caregiver of children left behind in Afghanistan fears ‘death’ at hands of Taliban

An American citizen, who served as an interpreter for U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and was abandoned by the Biden administration, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday she is in fear for her life now that the Taliban have retaken full control of the country.

Speaking by phone, the interpreter, a woman who goes by the assumed name Sara, also told Cuomo she is caring for 37 people, some of them disabled children, and has vowed not to leave them behind.

That said, she made it clear to the host, who said he has spoken to her often in the past and who vowed to remain in touch with her, she isn’t certain how they will escape now that all U.S. forces have pulled out and the administration has declared the war in Afghanistan official over after nearly 20 years.

“I just found out that they left, and I was just silent for a while,” she said after discovering the last flight out of the country had taken place earlier in the day.

(Video: CNN)

“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,” she added.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that with all this that’s going on, no one heard us, that we are in danger,” Sara continued.

“It’s heartbreaking. 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,” she went on. “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.”

Sara went on to explain that she and the 37 others she is caring for tried a number of times to get into the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, going “gate to gate” using instructions given out by the State Department, but to no avail.

She also explained that on Monday, ahead of the last flight, she and a man posing as her husband attempted to get themselves and six of the children to the airport again. She said they had to go through several Taliban checkpoints, telling the militants they were merely trying to go home, not to the airport, because they would not have been allowed through otherwise.

After being allowed to pass, Sara said she went to a gate the State Department told her to go to.

“They told me, make sure you have your umbrella with you, they will recognize you, make sure you have a secret code…and just get to the gate,” Sara explained.

But it turned out to be fruitless. Sara said the code “didn’t work,” adding that troops were using tear gas to keep the crowds back.

Eventually, she said, she was overcome by the gas and was “knocked out” for several minutes, losing the six kids who were with her.

“So what happens now, Sara? They [the Biden administration] say we’ll keep working with people there, that the Taliban has said people can leave if they wanna leave and the airport will be open,” Cuomo responded. “Do you believe any of that?”

“I don’t believe in anybody anymore,” Sara replied. “I just can’t believe no one told me this was the last flight.”

“What is your biggest fear now?” Cuomo asked after explaining that he can only do so much but that he would continue to help her in any way possible through his show.

“Am I safe?” she replied. “Now the question is my life. Am I safe? Are these people are safe? I don’t even think they’re safe because they are in my house.”

Sara went on to say that because she spent 14 years as an interpreter for U.S. forces, she and those with her are at risk of “death.”

“I went to so many different missions with military, so many different missions in different provinces,” she continued. “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. This is my fear, that if Americans could not help me when they were on the ground, how will they help me now when no one is here? That’s my question,” she said.

Jon Dougherty

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