Politics Dad who fled Afghanistan sues US to reunite with young sons
Joint Chiefs chairman calls Afghan war a 'strategic failure'
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer called the 20-year war in Afghanistan a “strategic failure” and acknowledged to Congress that he had favored keeping several thousand troops in the country to prevent a collapse of the U.S.-supported Kabul government and a rapid takeover by the Taliban. Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee pointed to the testimony Tuesday by Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as evidence that President Joe Biden had been untruthful when, in a television interview last month, he suggested the military had not urged him to keep troops in Afghanistan.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Afghan man was attending a conference in California as part of his job for a U.S.-government funded project in Afghanistan when the Taliban sent a written death threat to his home, forcing him to make a heart-wrenching decision: He would not return to his wife and two young sons and instead would seek asylum and try to bring them to the United States.
Two years later, Mohammad said he regrets leaving them, and wished he had never worked for the U.S. government given the price he has paid.
With Naming of New Atomic Chief, Is a Nuclear Taliban Possible?
"There has been no decision so far on the development of nuclear weapons," one Taliban official told Newsweek on the condition of anonymity. But a number of observers took notice last week when a list of official postings for the Taliban's interim government decreed by Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada and shared by the group's spokespersons identified "Engineer Najeebullah" as "Head of Atomic Energy.
As Mohammad tried to get visas for his family, his wife collapsed in 2020 and died of a heart attack while the Taliban threatened them. Mohammad, who lives in California, has been fighting ever since to be reunited with his sons, who are now 9 and 11, and are moving from house-to-house, living in hiding with their grandmother and uncle, he said. He asked that only his first name be used to protect them.
On Thursday, the International Refugee Assistance Project, whose lawyers are working on his behalf, filed a lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco against Secretary of State Antony Blinken, alleging the administration failed in its legal obligations under the Afghan Allies Protection Act to help his family despite his work for the U.S. government during the 20-year war there.
'Why don’t you have mercy?': Afghanistan’s Hazara people increasingly face eviction, violence under Taliban rule
Members of the Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan have faced discrimination and violent attacks for a long time. Under the new reality of Taliban rule, things appear to be getting worse.Afghan men pray near the grave of their relatives killed in bombings near Syed Al-Shahada School last month at a cemetery on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 2, 2021.
“The only thing that I want is just one hug" from my kids, Mohammad said.
Mohammad said he has repeatedly asked the U.S. government for help. He contacted the State Department in August after bullets pierced the home where his sons were hiding before the Taliban took control of the country. He asked for his children to be evacuated as the U.S. military conducted one of the largest airlifts in history, but they were left behind.
A State Department spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press that it does not comment on pending litigation.
Mohammad communicates daily with his sons either through calls or texts.
His youngest has broken down crying, asking, “Dad, are they going to kill me?”
“What can I say?” Mohammad asks.
He sent another letter to the State Department on Sept. 9 asking that his sons be granted humanitarian parole, but again he said he got no response. He also contacted his California lawmakers.
Amid turmoil, Afghanistan pavilion arrives at Dubai's Expo
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — When Afghanistan's president was killed in a communist coup in 1978 and the country plunged into violent chaos, Mohammed Omer Rahimy bundled up his family’s treasures and fled to Vienna. More than 40 years later, amid yet another violent upheaval in his home country, Rahimy found himself frantically loading those same artifacts onto a plane in cotton-stuffed boxes — this time to the first world's fair in theMore than 40 years later, amid yet another violent upheaval in his home country, Rahimy found himself frantically loading those same artifacts onto a plane in cotton-stuffed boxes — this time to the first world's fair in the Middle East.
Mohammad was approved for a special immigrant visa in January and applied the next month for his sons, requesting that their visa applications be expedited because they are in “imminent danger.” Their applications are still pending.
The lawsuit states that “removing his children from Afghanistan, where they are in daily peril, and reuniting them with their only remaining parent is essential to their survival and wellbeing.”
“At this point the government has known since mid-August at minimum that these kids are alone and in serious danger, and they didn't take any action to protect them," said lawyer Alexandra Zaretsky of the New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project.
Zaretsky said Mohammad is one of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and were forced to leave behind close family members to be able to get to safety. Many are still fighting to be reunited with them. The administration has provided no figures for how many special immigrant visa applicants and their family members are still stuck in Afghanistan a month after the U.S. withdrew its troops, and it has yet to take substantial action to protect them, according to the lawsuit.
Mohammad said he wants his sons to know that his work in promoting women's rights in Afghanistan for a program funded by the U.S. government was worth it, even if many of those advances may vanish under the new Taliban government.
He said he also wants them to see “because of my loyal service to the United States,” they have the chance to come to a good country like the U.S. where “your future is guaranteed" and they can get a "good education and other rights that human beings should have."
He tries to encourage them not to give up, though he is losing faith in his words.
“I'm giving them hope whenever I am talking to them, but I’m also thinking, ‘But is this even possible? Are they ever going to be reunited with me here?'" he said.
This story has been updated to correct the last name of the U.S. secretary of state. He is Antony Blinken, not Bilken.
Amid flurry of Taliban diplomacy, Qatar stresses engagement .
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar's foreign minister said isolating Afghanistan and its new Taliban rulers “will never be an answer” and argued Wednesday that engaging with the former insurgents could empower the more moderate voices among them. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani spoke amid a flurry of diplomatic meetings taking place in Qatar, where the Taliban have maintained a political office for years in the lead-up to their takeover of Afghanistan in August. The world has been looking to see how the Taliban transition from two decades of insurgency and war to governance after they seized control of Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan as U.S.