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Hundreds of students at the American University of Afghanistan have been left “terrified” for their lives after being denied evacuation from Kabul and told that the U.S. government gave their names to the Taliban.
What are the details?
In a stunning report published Sunday, the New York Times relayed that roughly 600 students, staff, and their relatives had been left stranded in a safe house in Kabul amid the Taliban’s violent takeover of the country — their hopes of evacuation dashed.
The group reportedly boarded buses set for Hamid Karzai International Airport on Sunday in a final attempt to flee the country. But after seven hours of waiting for clearance, the group was told to turn around. The airport remained a security threat and civilian evacuations were to be halted permanently on Monday.
“I regret to inform you that the high command at HKIA in the airport has announced there will be no more rescue flights,” read an email sent to students from American University president Ian Bickford Sunday afternoon, obtained by the New York Times.
“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,” Bickford added.
While being instructed to return home, the defeated group received even worse news: their names had been shared with the Taliban by the U.S. government.
“They told us: we have given your names to the Taliban,” recounted Hosay, a 24-year-old sophomore who was aboard the bus on Sunday. “We are all terrified, there is no evacuation, there is no getting out.”
“Our hopes and dreams have turned into dust,” several other students reportedly said.
Critics blasted the Biden administration last week amid reports that U.S. officials had carelessly supplied the Taliban with a list of names of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies in an effort to expedite their entry into the Kabul airport.
“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” one defense official told Politico. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
The Biden administration appeared to exercise its outsized trust in the terrorist militant group, but the university students have legitimate reason to fear. Here’s more from the Times report:
When the Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15, one of the first sites the group captured was the sprawling, modern American University campus. Men in traditional Afghan outfits swinging AK-47 rifles brought down the university flag and raised the flag of the Taliban, according to student and social media photos.
The Taliban posted a picture of themselves on social media standing at the entrance of a university building with an ominous message, saying this was where America trained infidel “wolves” to corrupt the minds of Muslims.
The photograph was widely shared among Afghans and sent students and alumni into hiding. They had reason to be scared. In 2016, the Taliban attacked the campus with explosives and guns in a terrorist assault that lasted 10 hours and killed 15 people, including seven students.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s promises of tolerance and leniency in the new regime have been coupled with violence against all who associated with Western governments and organizations during the last 20 years of U.S. military occupation.