Afghanistan News – Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Afghan Child Learns ABCs

Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, private contractors reaped rewards, Mike Waltz on Biden administration, Task Force Pineapple speaks out on evac effort, the Abbey Gate bombing, . . . . . and more.

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Evacuation from Afghanistan

DoS Sanctioned Flights – Still on Hold. The disagreement between the Taliban and Qatari officials on whether Taliban-associated ‘migrant workers’ can fly on aircraft chartered by the United States to evacuate LPRs and Afghans at-risk from Kabul to Doha has been ongoing for weeks. DoS has drawn a hard line on this. As a result the once or twice weekly flights have been suspended. DoS is not providing much information on this topic other than saying ‘no progress’. Meanwhile, private charter flights by U.S. volunteer organizations are either not happening . . . or if they are . . . they are being very discreet. Other countries are continuing with their efforts to evacuate Afghans they deem appropriate for relocation. Those Afghans with current Afghan passports, a valid visa to another country, and money can purchase a commercial ticket from Kabul to several destinations to include Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other locations.

Left Behind by DoD and DoS. Thousands of Afghans who supported the U.S. military as drivers, cooks, mechanics, and interpreters have been abandoned by the Biden administration. Scott Mann, an ex-Green Beret, takes about how the Department of State and Department of Defense have not come through on promises to help the many private volunteer veteran organizations attempting to assist at-risk Afghans. Learn about Task Force Pineapple and the groups efforts to help the ones still waiting for evacuation. “The Afghans Biden Left Behind”, Daily Mail, December 30, 2021.

“These groups are running out of energy. The veterans, many of them have quit their jobs, exhausted their savings, they’re running out of funding. Most of the folks they’re supporting are getting, you know, shuffled around from safe house to safe house in the middle of winter in Afghanistan with the economy collapsing. It’s a really dire situation, and what I don’t think – what the administration doesn’t fully appreciate, is we’re not going to let this go.”

Representative Mike Waltz, retired Green Beret with two combat tours in Afghanistan.

Biden Admin: ‘Actively Impeding’ Evac. Two volunteer veteran organizations have accused the Biden administration of putting up obstacles in the path of evacuation efforts to rescue at-risk Afghans who face imprisonment, torture, or death by the Taliban. Department of State “. . . officials have effectively stifled efforts by private groups attempting to evacuate Afghans that aided the U.S. military during its two-decade occupation . . .” Ben Owen, the chief executive of Flanders Fields, and Jesse Jensen, co-founder of Task Force Argo, speak out about how private volunteer groups are doing the work that the U.S. government refuses to do. “Rescuers: Biden Admin ‘Actively Impeding’ Evacuation Efforts in Afghanistan”, The Daily Wire, December 30, 2021.

Stuck in Kosovo. Several hundred Afghan evacuees, some of them flagged for security concerns, remain on a NATO base in Europe. There are over 200 evacuees on Camp Liya on Camp Bondsteel who are undergoing additional screening and processing. Camp Bondsteel houses about 1,000 troops from Turkey, Poland, Latvia, and the United States. They are part of a NATO peace-keeping force in Kosovo. “Afghan evacuees remain at base in Kosovo for additional screening”, Stars and Stripes, December 31, 2021.

Afghan Evacuee Resettlement

Afghan children and a New Home. The UN Refugee Agency and other organizations are assisting hundreds of unaccompanied refugee children now in Greece find new homes across Europe. “Lone refugee children go from homelessness in Greece to new lives across Europe”, UNHCR, December 14, 2021.

Resettled Afghan Pilots Fear for Family in Afghanistan. Oren Liebermann reports on former pilots of the Afghan Special Mission Wing now living in the United States and their concerns with the family they left behind in Afghanistan. In mid-August he and other pilots from the SMW flew their aircraft to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to escape the Taliban and keep the aircraft out of the Taliban’s hands. Most of them left their families behind. “Elite Afghan military pilots resettled in US fear for family they had to leave behind”, CNN Politics, January 2, 2022.

Afghan Boxers Stranded in Serbia. Nine boxers of Afghanistan’s national team competed in an international tournament in Serbia in November 2021. They had temporary visas to allow them to participate in the World Boxing Championships organized by the Amateur International Boxing Association. But they refused to return to Afghanistan. Now they are seeking humanitarian visas or asylum in any European country that will take them. “Afghan Boxers Refuse to Return to Their Homeland for Fear of Taliban”, Gandhara Blog, December 16, 2021.

An Afghan Interpreters Journey from HKIA to Texas. After spending ten years working with the U.S. military as an interpreter an Afghan and his family were able to make it to America in 2016. However, in 2021 his mother was very sick and he and his family returned to Afghanistan to visit. They then could not leave after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Eventually they managed to depart on a military evacuation flight from the Kabul airport. “How a former U.S. military translator escaped Afghanistan with his family and started over in Texas”, KSAT TV, January 4, 2022.

Life Under the Taliban

Martyrdom Soldiers as Part of IEA Military. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be establishing a special battalion of Istishhad (martydom soldiers) as a part of the IEA special forces. They will fall under the defense ministry. “IEA to include Istiahhad battalion in new army”, Ariana News, January 4, 2022. See also “Taliban to include suicide bombers in their army”, Khaama Press, January 4, 2022.

Border Clash With Turkmenistan. According to Afghan news media Turkmen border guards have skirmished with Taliban fights along the Afghan border in Jawzjan province in early January. “Turkmen Border Guards Skirmish With Taliban”, Radio Free Europe, January 4, 2022.

Refugees from Pakistan Who Fled to Afghanistan. A looming famine in Afghanistan not only threatens Afghans, but several thousand Pakistani refugees – and among them, armed militants. They had fled the conflict in Pakistan between the Pakistani Army and militant groups. Now in Afghanistan, along the border, many of them depend on assistance from the World Food Program (WFP). The food provided by the WFP includes flour, cooking oil, and chickpeas. It is likely that there are members of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) among these refugees. The TTP have had on and off again truces with the Pakistan government. Franz J. Marty, a freelance journalist based in Afghanistan, provides more details in “The Plight of the Refugees Who Fled to Afghanistan”, The Diplomat, December 20, 2021.

Computer App Provides Food to Afghans. An app run by an Australian firm provides food to thousands of Afghans through 300 Afghan volunteers in Afghanistan. “Brisbane man helps feed thousands overseas at the touch of a button”, The Courier Mail, October 28, 2021.

Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion

Who Won? The Private Contractors? The U.S. military spent $14 trillion during two decades of war; those who benefited range from major manufacturers to entrepreneurs. “Who Won in Afghanistan? Private Contractors”, by Jessica Donati et al, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2021. (subscription).

ISIS Cell and Abbey Gate Bombing. Eric Schmitt provides some details on U.S. efforts to hunt down the Islamic State – Khorasan Province terrorist cell responsible for the killing of over 200 Afghans and U.S. service members at Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport. An ISIS suicide bomber, days after being released from an Afghan government prison by the Taliban, detonated his bomb just before being searched by U.S. military members at an entry gate to the airport during the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation. “U.S. Military Focusing on ISIS Cell Behind Attack at Kabul Airport”, The New York Times, January 1, 2022.

Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos

Podcast – Unaccompanied Afghan Minors in Legal Limbo. Krish O’Mara Vignarajah of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) talks about the complexity of resettling over 70,000 Afghan refugees and of the unaccompanied minor children under the care of the LIRS. PBS News Hour, December 31, 2021. Listen to the audio or read the transcript.


Photo: An Afghan student writes out her ABC’s during the first day of community-based education in Liberty Village at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo Tech. Sgt. Rion Ehrman, USAF).