"A living hell": ABC features family trapped in Afghanistan ... from India?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The good news: ABC has escalated coverage of those abandoned in the Afghanistan collapse and crying out for rescue. The not-so-good news: the family ABC chose for this segment comes from India. Their description of Taliban rule as “a living hell” is compelling, but … what happened to the Americans abandoned by Biden?


“It’s like a living hell for us now,” Zahra, 20, told ABC News on a phone call while hiding out in western Afghanistan, in a country she hardly even knows.

“When I think about all the things that I’m missing out on — because of these people — I feel like crying,” she said, seeming to be fighting back tears.

While Zahra (ABC News has changed her name and her sister’s to protect them and their family) was born in Afghanistan, she has lived in India since she was 8 and is currently studying petrochemical engineering at a university based in Gujarat.

She visited her family in Afghanistan in late May as COVID-19 worsened in India after her father suggested she and her younger sister, Amina, travel home for the summer, where they all thought it would be safer. The sisters were excited to see their family, having only gone back to their home country a handful of times since they moved to India in 2007 for their education.

They now call the decision to return the “worst mistake of our lives.”

Zahra and her family are no doubt experiencing a living hell. Anyone with a heart would wish them a safe journey home and as much help as possible. This should be a front-page story in India, and is certainly worthy of a feature story here in the US too — given that Joe Biden and his administration allowed this “living hell” to erupt rapidly in the vacuum left by our retreat from Afghanistan.


What seems tougher to explain is ABC’s choice to feature a family from India, rather than a family of one of the hundreds or thousands of Americans Biden abandoned. It takes thirty-three paragraphs into the story to get to the first mention of Americans in any context, and that is a mention of the 13 service members killed in a suicide attack outside the airport during the retreat. You’d have to already know that reference, however, as ABC doesn’t bother to explain the location or the mission at the time of the suicide bombing.

When does the count of Americans still in Afghanistan appear? In the sixty-second paragraph. There isn’t a word about Joe Biden’s withdrawal failure or his decision to pull out the military rather than secure Kabul for a civilian evacuation first. In fact, the words “Joe Biden” never make it into this ABC report, nor the disgraceful conduct of the withdrawal. There is plenty of discussion of the collapse back into the Taliban’s totalitarian rule, but literally no explanation of its cause. ABC treats it as a force majeur rather than the utterly predictable consequence of Biden’s decisions:

As the State Department prioritizes getting the remaining American citizens out — at least 176 people of whom still want to leave, up from the roughly 100 officials said were there last month — Phaneuf said more needs to be done across the board.

“It’s not enough,” the former Marine infantry officer told ABC News.


Neither is this ABC News report. We hope and pray that Zahra and her family get out of Afghanistan soon. We also pray that the American media start covering the fact that Biden abandoned thousands of our fellow countrymen, citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) alike, and has no real plan to get them out, nor it appears any sense that it’s their problem. If the media would cover that story, that might force the Biden administration to deal with the issue — and would hold them accountable for a historic disgrace.

Addendum: The Pentagon has different numbers than State for how many abandoned Americans remain in Afghanistan:

The Pentagon stated Tuesday that nearly 450 American citizens are still in Afghanistan following August’s U.S. military withdrawal, more than the Biden administration has previously claimed.

The latest tally came from Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, after Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., pointed to what he believed were contradictory or at least “confusing” numbers that the administration has presented since the August 31 withdrawal. …

“In terms of how many American citizens we estimate are currently in Afghanistan, the Department of State is in contact with 196 American citizens who are ready to depart –and arrangements are being made for them to do so, either via air or over ground – and another 243 American citizens have been contacted and are not ready to depart, either because they want to stay in Afghanistan or aren’t ready,” Kahl said.

This total of 439 American citizens still in Afghanistan is up from the 363 the State Department had told congressional staff last week – which itself was up from the estimate of roughly 100 the administration had said in September.


Don’t forget that these figures are for American citizens only, and do not include LPRs. That in itself is another utter disgrace, especially from an administration that cheers the idea that illegal immigrants are just Americans in the making.

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024