Operations are ramping up at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul to get Americans, other nationals and at-risk Afghans out of the soon-to-be-Taliban-run country. There is hope. Inside the airport operations are running smoother. Thousands are getting out.
One of the now hopeful is Faridoon Hazeen, an Afghan we’ve been following for the past few days. He spent 10 years as a local high-level translator for U.S. military organizations. Even though there is a big Taliban target on his back, he couldn’t get a visa out.
Now he tells us he thinks he and his family are on a list for evacuation
The problem remains though getting to the airport and across the perimeter. Hazeen tells us there are “many Taliban checkpoints along the way,” all looking for any association with the U.S. military, often firing guns and waving truncheons.
And then there is a “rush to the gate” at the airport itself. Just Thursday night, Hazeen says thousands were there trying to get in, many without any kind of documentation. Desperate to flee a feared Taliban state.
As Hazeen notes, “Corruption is a big problem.” He says if you want to pass by the “Taliban gate” it will cost you $200 per family member. … If you can make it pass their tough interrogation.
If you want to go through a gate still manned by the residual Afghan military force it will run $300 a head. Fewer questions asked.
Finally if you don’t want to pay, you try your luck with the mob and get the attention of U.S. Marines along another stretch of the airport wall. Many have now seen those iconic pictures of young leathernecks hoisting babies and young girls over a tall concrete wall to get inside the airport to freedom. Warning shots unfortunately had to be fired there too to keep the bigger mob back.
At the end of his message to us, Hazeen says he is “hoping for the best.” As we all are for him and his family and many like them.