American citizens and Afghan allies are still trapped among the Taliban who, thanks to one President Joe Biden, now rule Afghanistan once again. But, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier is working to accomplish what the U.S. government will not and get them out of the medieval hellscape.
Lt. Col. Perry Blackburn, a member of the “Horse Soldiers” who were the tip of the spear in the U.S. response to the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001, has organized a non-profit group, “AFGfree”, that to date has evacuated over 1,000 people from the country.
“We are first in, last out,” their website says. “You can help.”
Blackburn told Fox News that the network is comprised of nearly 400 people, not all of whom are veterans.
“It is anybody that has a touch point in Afghanistan,” Blackburn said. “Like those who worked with NGOs, State Department, military, U.S. aid workers, civilian workers, doctors, nurses – we’ve come together and galvanized in networks of people.”
AFGfree is currently in touch with around 2,200 people awaiting rescue in Afghanistan. Blackburn says he personally is in contact with 43 Americans and legal U.S. residents who are stranded.
Blackburn’s nonprofit also works in concert with organizations like the Nazarene Fund, coordinating privately-funded flights in and out of the country.
“All the networks need is money to contract aircraft, to keep the promise of getting our Afghan partners out of Afghanistan,” Blackburn said. “And that means people that are documented, and the families that are attached to those documented people.”
Blackburn and his associates are now hoping to join forces with the federal government in the effort. They met with State Department officials in late September in the hopes of establishing a dialogue to further the rescue operations. Blackburn said they intended to “leverage the State Department and their capabilities,” including “any political capital they have with third-party countries.”
“You don’t understand how bad this situation is going to get unless we open the borders, which are closed because of our actions, and the State Department has to understand that,” Blackburn said. “Our actions have created this, have closed them down, because the borders weren’t closed before we started retreating.”
He is hopeful that the State Department officials with whom he and his colleagues met will acknowledge the level of seriousness and urgency the situation demands.
“What we have, that some of them don’t, is the passion for it,” Blackburn told the outlet. “They’re dealing with passports and processes. We’re dealing with people.”
When the botched withdrawal was said to be complete, administration and military officials claimed the U.S. airlifted more than 124,000 individuals out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, including 6,000 American citizens.
But after much pressure, the Biden regime has confirmed that thousands of Afghan allies and more than 100 American citizens remain in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
“There are American citizens behind enemy lines,” Blackburn said. “There is no worse statement from a government than to say we left our citizens behind enemy lines.”
“For 20 years, we provided this capability, this capacity, for Afghans to live moderately free, to buy into the promise of liberty and women’s rights, and all these things we hold dear, and Afghans started gravitating toward that,” Blackburn told the outlet. “And then we watched what happened last month, and I think this is what galvanized us so quickly.”
“These people put their lives on the line with us, these interpreters,” Blackburn said, estimating that approximately 4,000 Afghans died in the war “fighting alongside the United States.”
Asked about his service in Afghanistan, Blackburn said, “It almost doesn’t even matter now.”
“I feel like I spent my youth at war for this country. My kids spent their youth at war, my kids went to war,” Blackburn said. His sons both served in Afghanistan, one in the Infantry and one in the Chemical Corps.
“I was in the special forces group and we went into Afghanistan. And just in this totally austere environment, surrounded by the Taliban, al Qaeda, foreign fighters trying to kill us,” Blackburn recalled. “We were slugging our way through Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban.”
AFGfree sends some of their funds to groups in Afghanistan that can find safe houses and rent apartments and hotel rooms for those who are stranded, and can also move people from place to place if an area becomes dangerous. It is a constant struggle to keep them alive in a country that is increasingly feeling the boot of the Taliban around every corner.
“We move them around to keep them safe when they’re worried about their safety, which is starting to happen more and more,” Blackburn explained.
He warned that the process is ever-changing as the Taliban settles into power.
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