An attempt to protect American allies in Afghanistan may have horrifically backfired. Just before the Taliban overtook Kabul, U.S. Embassy staffers destroyed the passports and sensitive documents they possessed in order to protect the identities of any and all American allies.
“Eight months later, it’s not clear exactly how many passports were destroyed” , reports National Review. The U.S. Department of State declined to provide a number in an email to National Review.
“There are absolutely thousands. There’s no doubt about that,” said Ben Owen, chief executive of Flanders Fields, a civilian group that has been part of the rescue efforts in Afghanistan. “Owen cited correspondence among various rescue organizations, as well as conversations with people who he said were on the ground at the time of the embassy evacuation for his estimate. And if the embassy really had only a few hundred passports, staffers could have easily boxed them up and flown out with them, rather than destroy them, he said, ‘so clearly it was a huge volume of documents they had to dispose of very quickly” adds National Review.
One individual who spoke on condition of anonymity going by the name “Rabah” to protect his identity, is a 30-year-old in hiding due to his passport having been destroyed.
Rabah was an interpreter for U.S. special forces and has not seen his wife and kids in four weeks. He is running out of food. He has failed repeatedly to escape to Pakistan or Iran.
“There is no option for me,” said Rabah. “They destroyed my passport means they destroyed my whole life. If I had a passport, everything was possible. Without a passport . . . I can do nothing.”
People like Rabah, who were at the last step of getting the go-ahead to come to the U.S., now are among the likely tens of thousands of American allies and their family members who remain trapped in Afghanistan after the Biden administration’s bungled withdrawal. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that more than 60,000 Afghan interpreters and others who have applied for visas to seek shelter in the U.S. remain in the country. Meanwhile, the Taliban have been engaged in a ruthless campaign of revenge killings, and house-to-house searches for U.S. allies.
For Afghans like Rabah, who assisted the U.S. and are now on the Taliban kill list, getting replacement passports can be treacherous. Rabah said he paid at least $5,000 for his family’s original application and documents, and then had to pay another $3,150 to replace the passports that were destroyed in August. When they were ready, he sent a nephew to pick them up, he said. When he did, his nephew was taken into custody by the Taliban.