AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — An Amarillo family is on their way back home after being evacuated from Afghanistan.
According to U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, these are the first four Americans who have left that country since the August 31 deadline.
The mother and her three children, all American citizens who went to visit extended family, were some of the more than 100 U.S. citizens and allies still trying to escape after the Taliban took control of the country.
Congressman Jackson said he first learned of the family’s situation when the woman’s husband reached out to his office asking for help.
The congressman’s office then reached out to the state department, but Jackson says they were not “satisfied with what happened.”
Jackson said the family tried multiple times to get through a Taliban checkpoint, but could not pass.
“The 15-year-old son was struck in the head, and the mother had a gun put to her head, and they told her do not come back here again. We don’t care if you’re an American citizen, we don’t care about your passport. If you come back here again, we’re gonna kill you,” said Jackson. “The following day they tried one more time, and I think at one point they actually got through a checkpoint and ended up 200 feet from the gate, but we couldn’t get the State Department to somehow recognize them to come out and identify them and open the gate and let them in.”
The congressman later found a private party was going to fly in and try to evacuate Americans.
“They tried relentlessly for about two days to get in, they flew over there. They landed, they refueled, and they took off and they got to Afghanistan.”
But they were not able to land at Kabul’s airport. So the family went to option two.
“These dedicated Afghan people that have helped us so much over the last 20 years, they gathered our constituents up, took them on a treacherous drive — 10 hours to the border through multiple checkpoints, got them to the border, and then got them to another airport that was up further north that was supposed to be more amenable to getting us citizens out. It turned out it wasn’t,” said Jackson.
The team on the ground tried for option three.
“They made some phone calls called some of the Taliban people at the border crossing, gave them the false impression that they were Taliban calling from Doha, and that they were authorizing that these Americans pass,” said Jackson. “They tricked him to some extent. They got these Americans out, and then we got them across the border. The country that they came into was demanding that they have some type of visa. So that’s when they reached out to the embassy there and they were able to get our citizens tourist visas so they could stay in the country because, you know, I can’t imagine that we’re gonna send them back.”
The congressman’s team said the private flight operation is still ongoing, and members of that team will be with the family until they are back in the U.S.
Jackson told us he believes there may be three more people from District 13 who are still in Afghanistan.
“The last time I talked to him was before the US pulled out of Kabul. So it could have been that they got out and I haven’t I don’t know about it yet, or it could be that they just went into hiding” Jackson said.
We reached out to the State Department on the family’s situation. They sent the following statement:
The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need and to their families. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.State Department Official