Home » Failed Escapes At Kabul Airport Led To Living Nightmares For These Afghans In Hiding: The Last 96

Failed Escapes At Kabul Airport Led To Living Nightmares For These Afghans In Hiding: The Last 96

This is the third part of a Fox News Digital Originals series about the fall of Kabul and the hectic and heroic 96-hour effort to evacuate Afghans fearing retribution from the Taliban. Part 1 Part 2

“H” tried escaping Afghanistan through the Kabul airport eight times, going from gate to gate seeking a way in, but found it impossible while traveling with women and his children. He sometimes spent the night there, faced stampeding crowds, went hours without food, water or bathroom access and, at one point, his son lost consciousness.

But despite the hardships, H and his family were stranded after the U.S. finally withdrew from Kabul. He feared the Taliban would hunt him down as a former translator for the U.S. Army.

“I served [the U.S.],” H, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from an IED while working for the U.S. military, told Fox News. “Now, they owe me a favor to take me out, and I am expecting this from the Biden administration to help me.”

H and his family are hiding from the Taliban. He has little chance of escaping Afghanistan in the near future.

HOW KABUL BECAME AN EVACUATION BOTTLENECK AND A PRIME TERROR TARGET: THE LAST 96

But his story isn’t unique. Countless Afghans fearing retribution from the Taliban faced similar experiences. Several, including H, shared their experiences with Fox News and were granted anonymity to protect them from the Taliban.

“I don’t know why U.S. left us behind,” one Afghan told Fox News. He was eligible for a special immigrant visa for his work with the U.S. Army as a financial assistant and applied in the spring but never heard back.

Each Afghan who spoke with Fox News fought through massive, unruly crowds; tried to bypass Taliban and sometimes U.S. checkpoints; and has taken radical measures to hide from the extremist group they say is hunting them down.

WATCH: AFGHANS DESCRIBE ATTEMPTS TO FLEE, LIVES HIDING FROM TALIBAN

The Taliban promised amnesty for Afghans who helped the U.S. government, but there have been numerous, ongoing reports of retribution, including executions.

Some Afghans interviewed said they were running out of food and water.

International aid experts previously told Fox News food and water stores were an issue for many Afghans in hiding. They also said Afghans have little chance of evacuation anytime soon, unless they attempt a life-threatening escape through a land route.

At least 100,000 – though possibly many more – Afghan allies remain stranded in the country.

‘My son was unconscious. I was about to lose him’

H pleaded with the Marines for entry to the Kabul airport.

“I’ve been waiting here for 48 hours,” H told them. “I’m running out of food, running out of water.”

But the Marines had their orders and wouldn’t let him through.

“My son was unconscious. I was about to lose him,” H told Fox News. “My wife was hungry, thirsty, starving. There was no place to go to the toilet.”

He was forced to leave.

“I did not make it in the evacuation,” H continued. “I am still left behind.”

The Kabul airport became the only feasible escape option after the Taliban swept through Afghanistan. It became a bottleneck with a deluge of people flooding in.

“At least save my kids if I … die here,” a former translator for U.S. special operations told Fox News through a voice memo while he was seeking escape. “I don’t care about myself, but I’m worried too much about my kids.”

Later, he sent another voice memo: “I have no idea where I’m located. From everywhere, I hear the sound of shooting gunfire. I have no idea how to leave.”

Afghans gather outside the passport office after Taliban officials announced they will start issuing passports to its citizens again, following months of delays that hampered attempts by those trying to flee the country after the Taliban seized control, in Kabul, Afghanistan Oct. 6, 2021. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

A female journalist who was highly critical of the Taliban told Fox News she couldn’t avoid Taliban checkpoints and was afraid they’d seize her documents, prohibiting her from ever leaving the country.

“During the 10 days of evacuation, we tried to go to the airport, but it was almost impossible because the Taliban were checking the passports,” she said. The journalist added that she didn’t know if she would be able to board any flights since she didn’t have an official letter permitting her evacuation.

H compared the scenes to the film “World War Z.”

“You might have seen that zombies were running all around,” he told Fox News. “The people were running toward the airport. It was chaos in the city.”

“I was also trying to run to the airport and get a chance to be evacuated,” H continued. “But I was not lucky enough. They did not let us in.”

H’s applications for an SIV were repeatedly rejected years before the U.S. announced its intent to withdrawal from Afghanistan. He had numerous letters of recommendation from U.S. officials, but he said the embassy denied his requests because he had been terminated from his job around 2014.

H told Fox News that a job demanded he take a polygraph, even though he had doctors’ notes saying it was too soon to for him after his TBI. He said the injury caused an irregular heartbeat, leading him to fail the lie detector test.

H gave up on an SIV for years but reapplied in July. He’s still waiting for a response.

As a result, he was repeatedly rejected for entry to the airlift.

‘Two of my friends are gone’

Many Afghans endured the harrowing airport experience and were lucky enough to escape. But the nightmare continues for H and the others who spoke with Fox News.

“This country is not a place to live anymore,” H told Fox News. “This country is gone for us.”

The journalist echoed his sentiments.

“Afghanistan have become hell,” the female journalist told Fox News. “The world has forgotten Afghanistan, and they left us in this situation.”

Afghans at risk of being targeted by the Taliban, including those who spoke with Fox News, have gone into hiding.

“I am witnessing that two of my friends are gone,” H told Fox News. “They are gone dark.”

“I don’t know where they are,” he continued. “They were in frequent contact with me, but they are gone. I don’t know what happened to them.”

HOW HUNDREDS OF AFGHANS WERE SAVED FROM THE TALIBAN BY VETERANS IN A DIGITAL DUNKIRK: THE LAST 96

The Taliban has arrested, executed and disappeared dissidents despite their promises of amnesty, according to numerous reports. Afghans at risk have, as a result, gone into hiding.

The Taliban “are covertly operating to find the old U.S. allies in order to execute them or torture them or imprison them,” H told Fox News.

“I don’t go out too much because of the level of threats that are in close to me,” he added. “The situation is still … pretty scary and I don’t dare go out.”

The former special operations translator told Fox News: “They are looking everywhere. Place by place, home by home, street by street, looking for us, and we don’t want to be recognized by them.”

“If we get recognize or identify, so I’m not sure we could live,” he continued.

Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 5, 2021. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

The journalist, the former financial assistant and the brother of a U.S. soldier change locations each day to avoid getting caught. The Taliban eventually found the journalist’s home while she was in hiding.

“They searched everything,” she told Fox News. “They picked some pictures from our home, the albums, everything. And then they asked some of our neighbors, ‘Where are they?'”

She also noted that she and her family, like many in hiding, were running out of cash and food.

“All the day we are thinking about a way to get out of the country, to find a way to contact people,” the journalist told Fox News. “I have sent more than hundreds of emails to different email addresses, to embassies, to the countries that were supposed to evacuate Afghans, especially female journalists.”

She said both she and her father are sick and that she’s afraid to go to the hospital.

The former financial assistant similarly said he hasn’t received any responses to his requests to the U.S. embassy for visas.

“Right now, we are the hostages of Taliban,” H told Fox News. “I mean, not only me, the entire nation.”

“We’re trapped inside our own country,” he continued.

Top U.S. officials recently met with Taliban leaders with the hopes of evacuating more Afghans. The U.S. aims to begin evacuations again before the end of the year, but, unlike during the first airlift, only SIV applicants who have already gone through most of the vetting process will qualify, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a single anonymous U.S. government source.

At-risk Afghans, likely including the female journalist and the soldier’s brother, won’t be eligible.

“The only way is the charter flights,” the brother of the soldier told Fox News. “We are living for now, just for that hope.”

Some chartered flights have started leaving Afghanistan, but Afghan nationals typically aren’t able to board.

“The situation is getting worse day by day and every hour,” the brother said. “Our hope is that to leave here with our family and come together with our mom and dad and our brother in America.”

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Meanwhile, the United Nations recently warned that Afghanistan is facing a hunger crisis.

“I’m just helpless. I’m just broke,” H told Fox news. “We people don’t have money even to buy our groceries.”

“If we are not dying from the threats of the Taliban, we may die from the hunger,” he continued.

Fox News’ Matt Wall contributed to this report.