I woke up to the following
Turns out they were not American citizens but Afghan girl musicians
‘Our elected leaders failed’: Hundreds of Afghan girls left behind in Kabul
30 August, 2021
It is the stuff of horror, heartache and helplessness: Afghan girls who have devoted their entire lives to making melodies have not only been silenced amid the Taliban takeover — they have been barred from entering the US military-run airport in Kabul.
Now, the clock has run out.
“We had seven buses filled with world-renowned orchestra performers — 280 girls all approved to go,” said Robert Stryk, a Washington fixer who has been coordinating private evacuation efforts in conjunction with former Navy SEAL and US Congressman Scott Taylor (R-Va.).
“Our hearts are broken,” he added. “These young girls spent 17 hours on a hot bus with no food or water and were 393 feet from freedom but were denied entry into the airport because the United States government gave [the Taliban] the power to override the US Army’s 82nd Airborne.
“Our elected leaders failed these 280 young girls.”
It could have been a slim success story in the frantic end to the two-decade conflict, but it morphed into the fall of a dark curtain when the performers belonging to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music were left to languish ahead of the final civilian evacuation efforts over the weekend.
According to Stryk and Taylor, the buses were sent to three different airport gates. The group honored a request from the US government to add seven US citizens to the busload — and were finally told to wait in line for “final approval from the Taliban.”
“The bird was right there on the tarmac waiting for them, this was an operation we had been playing for days, and everyone at the highest levels of government knew about it. These are girls whose school had already been ransacked, and the US military approved their departure,” Taylor lamented, stressing that he exhausted all his political contacts and leverage in the final fight for the girls’ freedom.
“As it works, the military gets the manifest and prints it out, and drives it to the Taliban checkpoint, and they negotiate with them to let people through. But in this case, we were told the Taliban does not issue the final approval.”
So the daylight faded, and the danger level grew in the volatile area — just days after an ISIS-K suicide bomber killed more than 160 Afghans and 13 US military personnel stationed around the airport periphery.
And then the gate was painstakingly shut.
“I knew in my gut that was it — they were going to miss the last flight out. We were absolutely guttered, and I am absolutely ashamed as an American citizen how this went down,” Taylor said, noting that supposed meetings to revisit their case Sunday morning never materialized. “I broke down thinking about these kids and what is going to happen to them.”
Stryk concurred that such a stain — such a chaotic conclusion to the long-running war — is nothing short of “disgraceful.”
For more than a decade, the music institute literally brought harmony and happiness to the lives of many young Afghans. It was one of the few institutions in which girls and boys learned alongside one another and were trained in Afghan and Western classics, and it embraced orphans and tiny street beggars into its fold. The school had weathered numerous attacks in the past — including a suicide bombing in 2014 — but remained steadfast in its determination to light the way to a brighter future.
That future now hangs in silence.
Not only have the girls seemingly lost the opportunity to play professionally, they may not even be able to play for pleasure. While it remains to be seen precisely what approach the Taliban will take to music and the arts, in the past, the group has strictly prohibited most forms of music — except vocal-only religious songs — and dramatically destroyed instruments and punished people for violating the music ban.
Similarly, there have been many “botched attempts” to evacuate dozens of young guitar students who have been left to face a frightening future. Already the girls — who have had to abandon their beloved instruments out of safety concerns — have gone into hiding.
“I’m still working 24/7 trying to get the word out, to get the music community to rally around this,” said Lanny Cordola, a California-based musician who founded “The Miraculous Love Kids” foundation and developed the “Girl with Guitar” music program for street girls more than seven years ago. “They feel scared and confused and betrayed. I am willing to do anything that I need to do to get them safe passage.”
I first met the young, wide-eyed guitar students in a nondescript Kabul apartment some four years ago. One gentle-faced 12-year-old named Mursal played me a set of her favorites from Sting and the Beach Boys and sang a tribute to a fallen police officer in the US that she learned about on Facebook.
Five years earlier, she and her two older sisters had been selling trinkets to support their family outside the NATO headquarters in Kabul when a 14-year-old boy pedaled past and detonated a suicide vest.
In less than a moment, her sisters — and four other small children from the poorest echelons of society — were dead. But in the throes of deep trauma, Mursal soon came to discover the healing powers of music under Cordola’s tutelage.
The repeated trauma now is searing.
“The White House is spinning half-truths. The Taliban gets to determine who leaves and who does not,” Taylor added bitterly. “Never mind that the Taliban still has these lists. The fact that the United States of America would abdicate our security and the decisions of who can go and who must stay to the Taliban is nothing short of despicable.”
The Taliban offering the US to take control of not just the airport but all of Kabul. Chaos was engulfing the city as news of the government’s collapse spread. Security was a priority. The Taliban offered the US to take control of the city, and we turned them down
Well, the fiasco that erupted concerning the safe evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan could have been much less chaotic. The Washington Post had a lengthy piece Sunday detailing the fall of Kabul. It circles back to everything you already know. The Taliban were racing toward reconquering the country. The Afghan government was totally aloof. And everyone in the Biden orbit was on vacation when calamity hit. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani dithered on getting his act together, more concerned about the digitization of the economy than the Taliban threat. The publication noted that he agreed to step aside days before the Taliban took control of Kabul. The US assumed he would be there to help with the transitional government that included the Taliban. Instead, he fled, but here’s the real issue.
Buried mid-way through the piece is the Taliban offering the US to take control of not just the airport but all of Kabul. Chaos was engulfing the city as news of the government’s collapse spread. Security was a priority. The Taliban offered the US to take control of the city, and we turned them down (via WaPo):
In the void, law and order began to break down, with reports of armed gangs moving through the streets.
In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha — including McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command — spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.
“We have a problem,” Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”
Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind.
McKenzie, aware of those orders, told Baradar that the U.S. mission was only to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and others at risk. The United States, he told Baradar, needed the airport to do that.
On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.
So, if we had taken control of the city, which we could have done, there would have been no Taliban checkpoints making access all but impossible.
There would have been no beatings of Americans by the Taliban.
No American passports would have been seized.
We could have removed our citizens much more easily. Would it still have been chaotic due to the swarms of Afghan civilians trying to flee the Taliban? Probably—but perhaps processing them would have been smoother as well.
Instead, we have terrorists handling security like TSA at Hamid Karzai Airport, which was rocked by a suicide bomber last week that killed at least 13 US service members, most of them Marines. The city would have been secured. Our people could have ventured out without fear of violence. The civilians, the key Afghan allies we cleared to leave with us, could have been evacuated more efficiently as well. We wouldn’t have been subjected to handing the Taliban lists of those approved at the checkpoints, which amount to a kill list. It’s one of many disastrous decisions the Biden administration has been a part of in recent days.
The Taliban now actually flying US BlackHawk helicopters, hanging people by the throat from them
American University of Afghanistan Students Told ‘There Is No Evacuation’ and That Their Names Were Given to the Taliban
Hundreds of students and alumni of the American University of Afghanistan were told “there will be no more rescue flights” on Sunday, prompting many to go into hiding.
Students were further alarmed upon learning that the U.S. military had given a list of their names and passport information to Taliban officials guarding the airport in Kabul, according to a report from the New York Times.
“They told us: we have given your names to the Taliban,” a 24-year-old sophomore studying business administration told the Times. “We are all terrified, there is no evacuation, there is no getting out.”
About 600 students and alumni had gathered at a safehouse on Sunday to gather before attempting to flee the country. However, upon arriving at the airport, they were turned away due to evacuation flights ending as the U.S. focuses on removing its personnel ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline.
“I regret to inform you that the high command at HKIA in the airport has announced there will be no more rescue flights,” an email shared with the Times from the university administration read.
Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seems to have lost his mind after comparing Americans who choose not to be confined by masks to the deadly terrorists who killed 13 American service members last week.
In a tweet, Duncan claimed that those who don’t wear masks are “strikingly similar” to the extremists who killed and injured hundreds of Americans and Afghans by suicide bombing, per the Star News Network.
“They both blow themselves up, inflict harm on those around them, and are convinced they are fighting for freedom,” the tweet reads.