Exhausted British soldiers get last UK flight out of Kabul as Boris claims Britain ‘will return’ to country – amid strain on relationship with Biden after 150 Brits and 1,000 Afghans were left behind
- Video and images posted by The Parachute Regiment and the Ministry of Defence on Saturday showed British troops flying out of Afghanistan were shared online Saturday
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to ‘use all the diplomatic and humanitarian tools at our disposal to preserve the gains of the last 20 years’
- Pentagon said drone strike overnight killed two ISIS ‘planners’ behind Thursday’s suicide bombing at airport
- The attack killed at least 170 people, including 13 U.S. troops, two Britons and the child of a UK national
- U.S. troops now face ‘very difficult’ few days acting as ‘rear guard’ to the withdrawal, Gen. Sir Nick Carter said
- ‘I think our allies are going to be challenged because the threat from ISIS has not gone away,’ Sir Nick said
- General Sir Richard Barrons said that suicide attack served to underline the ISIS threat in Britain
- ‘It illustrates that ISIS is a risk to the United Kingdom, here at home, and to our interests abroad,’ he said
- WARNING: Graphic images
The last remaining British troops have been evacuated from Afghanistan, bringing the UK’s two decades of military involvement in the country to a close.
Video and pictures from inside military aircraft shared online by The Parachute Regiment and the Ministry of Defence last night showed exhausted British troops leaving Kabul.
As the evacuation effort came to a close, Boris Johnson pledged to return to Afghanistan when it is safe to do so. Some 150 Britons and more than 1,000 Afghans have been left behind.
In a bid to put a positive gloss on Britain’s hasty retreat, the Prime Minister vowed to ‘use all the diplomatic and humanitarian tools at our disposal to preserve the gains of the last 20 years’.
Government sources insisted Britain’s absence from the war-ravaged country was only temporary.
US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw his forces by the end of the month left Mr Johnson with no alternative but to follow suit – putting the so-called ‘special relationship’ under strain and prompting angry Tory MPs to question Mr Biden’s suitability for the White House.
Operation Pitting, the largest UK military evacuation since the Second World War, airlifted more than 15,000 people in a fortnight on more than 100 RAF flights.
It included 5,000 British nationals and their families and more than 8,000 Afghan former UK staff and their relatives. Around 2,200 children were evacuated, the youngest just a day old.
Afghan ‘sleeper’ agents who fed intelligence to MI6, including information about the suicide bomb attack at Kabul airport last week, have also been whisked to safety.
Sir Laurie Bristow, the UK’s ambassador to Kabul, who has relocated to Qatar to lead diplomatic work remotely, said: ‘It’s time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Twenty years ago, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the first British soldier set foot on Afghan soil aiming to create a brighter future for the country and all its people.
‘The departure of the last British soldiers from the country is a moment to reflect on everything we have sacrificed and everything we have achieved in the last two decades.
‘The nature of our engagement in Afghanistan may have changed, but our goals for the country have not. We will now use all the diplomatic and humanitarian tools at our disposal to preserve the gains of the last 20 years and give the Afghan people the future they deserve.’
In other developments yesterday:
- Two ISIS-K leaders suspected of masterminding the Kabul airport attack were reportedly ‘riding a tuk-tuk’ when they were killed in a US drone attack;
- A second Briton killed in the Kabul attack was last night named as Musa Popal, 60, who had travelled to Afghanistan in May to visit relatives and was trying to return to Britain when killed. Mohammad Niazi, a taxi driver from Aldershot who had gone to Kabul to bring his wife and children to safety, also died;
- Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed Operation Warm Welcome, the plan to help Afghan refugees to resettle in the UK. Writing in the MoS, she said: ‘Our country has a proud history of offering sanctuary to those in need.’
- The Government has committed to take about 5,000 refugees in the first year and 20,000 over the coming years;
- Sources claimed that Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove was trying to ‘muscle in’ on Ms Patel’s resettlement programme;
- Former Royal Marine Pen Farthing was accused of ‘costing lives’ with his campaign to evacuate 173 cats and dogs from Afghanistan and of ‘bullying’ a Ministry of Defence official. In a voice recording obtained by the MoS, he can be heard vowing to ‘spend the rest of my time f****** destroying’ an aide to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace;
- An Afghan translator who worked with the MoS described his dramatic escape to Britain.
The final flight from Kabul marks the end of a fraught period for Mr Johnson’s administration. Footage purporting to show British troops inside a military aircraft as it left Kabul was last night posted on social media.
Despite the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, a Government source insisted: ‘We intend to re-establish our diplomatic presence in Kabul as soon as the security and political situation in the country allows and are co-ordinating this effort with allies.’
By yesterday afternoon, the number of Afghans brought to the UK had reached 10,000 – double the number anticipated, with the UK evacuating more people than any country apart from the US.
Video and pictures from inside military aircraft shared online by The Parachute Regiment (pictured) showed British troops leaving the Afghan capital, and the Ministry of Defence told the MailOnline that soldiers were in the process of being withdrawn, although could not confirm the veracity of the footage
Pictured: A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows UK military personnel onboard a A400M aircraft departing Kabul, Afghanistan, 28 August 2021, as part of Operation Pitting
In this handout photo provided by the Ministry of Defence, UK military personnel onboard a A400M aircraft departing Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, August 28, 2021
Pictured: A photograph shared by the official Twitter account of The Parachute Regiment shows soldiers on a military aircraft purportedly being withdrawn from Afghanistan on Saturday
Afghan woman gives birth on evacuation flight to UK
By Glen Owen for the Mail on Sunday
Cradles in a red airline blanket, this little girl was born at 33,000ft while on an evacuation flight to the UK yesterday.
Her Afghan mother, Soman Noori, was on the flight from Dubai to Birmingham – having previously left Kabul – when she went into labour.
There was no doctor on board, forcing the Turkish Airlines cabin crew to deliver the baby girl in airspace over Kuwait. She has been named Havva, which translates to Eve in English.
Havva is the third child of Ms Noori, 26, and her 30-year-old husband, Taj Moh Hammat. Turkish Airlines said mother and baby were healthy, and although the plane landed in Kuwait as a precaution, it continued on its route to Birmingham and landed at 11.45am.
Video footage shows Havva sleeping in her mother’s arms before being cooed over by cabin crew.
Ms Noori is not the first woman to give birth while fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power.
An unnamed woman gave birth last week on a US military plane that had just landed in Germany. She named her Reach, after the aircraft’s call sign.
Pictured: Air crew hold baby Havva who was born on an evacuation flight destined for Birmingham
Scroll down for video
Video and pictures from inside military aircraft shared online by The Parachute Regiment on Saturday showed British troops leaving the Afghan capital.
The Ministry of Defence, which also later released its own images, told the MailOnline that soldiers were in the process of being withdrawn.
The footage, along with pictures of British solders on military aircraft, was shared by the official Twitter account of The Parachute Regiment on Saturday at 12:25pm GMT (16:55pm in Afghanistan).
The video showed smiling soldiers sitting on the floor of the aircraft listening to ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, while the pictures – taken in the dark – showed troops sitting and facing the front of the aircraft.
Earlier on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the final civilian rescue flight as part of Operation Pitting left overnight.
All remaining RAF jets leaving Kabul will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel.
The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said: ‘It’s time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave.
‘We’ll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security.’
Thousands of refugees have been unable to get to the Taliban-guarded airport or are too fearful to do so for the constant threat of terrorism.
On Thursday, an ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 170 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers, two Britons and the child of a UK national outside the airport walls.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the Taliban had sealed off Kabul’s airport to most Afghans hoping for evacuation, as most Nato nations flew out their troops after two decades in Afghanistan, winding down a frantic airlift that Western leaders acknowledged was still leaving many of their citizens and local allies behind.
The Pentagon announced today it carried out a retaliatory drone strike that killed two ISIS ‘planners and facilitators’ and wounded another militant in Nangahar province, eastern Afghanistan.
Washington described them as ‘high profile ISIS targets’ but would not specify their roles in the airport bombing.
Britain’s last flight with military and official personnel is expected to land later today ahead of the Tuesday withdrawal deadline agreed by the U.S. and the Taliban.
Gen. Sir Nick Carter said: ‘We should be holding our breath and thinking really hard of that last aeroplane.’
U.S. troops now face a ‘very difficult’ few days acting as the ‘rear guard’ to the withdrawal, he added.
Pictured: Taliban Badri fighters, a ‘special forces’ unit equipped with US gear, stand guard as Afghan wait at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport on Friday
Pictured: Two Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, August 28 as operations by foreign countries to get their citizens out of the country come to an end
Pictured: Five Taliban fighters carrying weapons ride in the back of a truck as they patrol Kabul on August 28, 2021
Taliban members stand guard at a checkpoint around Hamid Karzai International Airport, the centre of evacuation efforts from Afghanistan since the Taliban took over, after yesterday’s explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 28, 2021. The picture shows a U.S. military Humvee that has been seized by the Taliban
Pictured: The aftermath of Thursday’s suicide bombing, which killed 170 people including three Britons and 13 U.S. soldiers
‘I think our American allies are going to be very challenged because the threat from ISIS-K has not gone away and of course there are still lots of desperate Afghans trying to get out,’ Sir Nick said.
General Sir Richard Barrons warned that ISIS now posed a threat which reached beyond Afghanistan to the UK.
‘What [the suicide bombing] does do is illustrate that Isis-K is a risk to the United Kingdom, here at home, and to our interests abroad,’ the general said.
‘We’re going to find common cause with the US, and indeed I think the Taliban, in bearing down on this terrible organisation for as long as it takes to neuter them.’
The MoD said last night that 14,543 people had now been extracted from Kabul since August 13, a mix of Afghan and British nationals, and that now the focus would turn to getting diplomats and service personnel out.
Some 8,000 of those were Afghans and their families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme, which applies to those who helped the UK and are at risk of persecution by the Taliban.
As Britain’s 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan draws to a close:
- Among the dead in Thursday’s suicide blast was Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who had travelled from London to help get his family inside the airport, according to the BBC;
- Boris Johnson appeared to take a swipe at Joe Biden, saying the timing of the pull-out was ‘not the one that this country would have chosen’;
- The PM said the scenes in Afghanistan after the bombing were ‘extremely difficult and extremely horrible’;
- Ex-Royal Marine turned animal rescuer Pen Farthing could be the last British civilian to leave Kabul airport;
- A Pentagon spokesman admitted thousands of Islamic State terrorists had been released by the Taliban from US prisons in Afghanistan;
- US officials warned they feared more attempted terror attacks before all Western troops leave ahead of Tuesday’s deadline;
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace criticised Foreign Office officials who left documents identifying vulnerable Afghan workers strewn on the floor of the British Embassy;
- It emerged that the Taliban now have access to biometric devices containing the names and details – including fingerprints – of Afghans who have helped US forces;
Afghans queue at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport hoping to leave Afghanistan in Kabul on Saturday. The last UK flight carrying civilians left last night. All further British planes will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel
Afghans boarding an Italian plane at 3pm on Friday, the C-130J jet took off from Kabul with the last 58 Afghan citizens on board who were due to arrive in Italy at the Fiumicino airport early Saturday
Afghan civilians in Italian military planes (left and right) on Saturday. They will be among the last to leave as the Tuesday deadline looms
Afghan evacuees queue before boarding one of the last Italy’s military aircraft C130J during evacuation at Kabul airport on Friday
A Taliban fighter guards the airport as desperate Afghans try to escape their brutal reign
A Taliban Badri fighter, a ‘special forces’ unit, stands guard as Afghans walk to the main entrance gate of Kabul airport
Afghan evacuees queue before boarding one of the last Italy’s military aircraft C130J during evacuation at Kabul’s airport on Friday
Members of the British armed forces 16 Air Assault Brigade walk to the air terminal after disembarking a RAF Voyager aircraft at Brize Norton on Saturday
British troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade walk off the runway after arriving back at RAF Brize Norton on Saturday
People queue up outside the airport on Saturday as they desperately try to board the last flights out of the country
Taliban leaders hold a celebratory summit in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, on Saturday to mark their victory
Tory MP and Afghan veteran Tom Tugenhadt said people should ‘forget’ about getting to Kabul and attempting to fly from the airport, due to the numerous dangerous checkpoints that have been installed along the motorways.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘Forget about getting to Kabul. You know there’s 10 checkpoints between them on the motorway, let alone down the motorway, all the way to Kabul.
‘You can absolutely forget about trying to get to the airport because every one of those checkpoints has a danger point where Taliban or indeed affiliated groups, drug dealers or just simply bandits could murder, and certainly have, been murdering various people.’
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee added: ‘I’m extremely sad about this and I very much hope that it might go beyond the August deadline but we found out a few days ago that it wasn’t, so I was expecting it.
‘It still leaves me extremely sad that so many of my friends have been left behind.’
Questioned over whether the UK could have done better when withdrawing personnel from Afghanistan, Mr Tugendhat said: ‘In the last week, probably not, but this has been a sprint finish after a not exactly sprint start.’
‘There are going to be questions to be asked to the Foreign Secretary about the processing in the UK in recent weeks that we’re going to have to see what the answers are.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously admitted there were between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme who would be left behind, while around 100 and 150 UK nationals will remain in Afghanistan, although Mr Wallace said some of those were staying willingly.
But a number of MPs have said that based on the correspondence they had received asking for help, they thought this was an underestimation.
Left: Afghan evacuee Soman Noori holds her newborn baby girl named Havva on board an evacuation flight operated by Turkish Airlines from Dubai to Britain’s Birmingham, August 28, 2021. Right: Baby Havva who was born on an evacuation flight destined for Birmingham with the crew. Soman Noori, 26, an Afghan refugee fleeing to the UK was travelling on an evacuation flight from Dubai to Birmingham
Pictured: Afghan people wait to enter Pakistan through Chaman border crossing in Chaman, Pakistan on August 28, 2021
Pictured: Pakistani soldiers check documents of Afghan people before entering Pakistan through Chaman border crossing in Chaman, Pakistan on August 28, 2021
Pictured: Afghan people wait to enter Pakistan through Chaman border crossing in Chaman, Pakistan on August 28, 2021
Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: ‘This is the brutal truth, despite getting more than 14,000 people out, there are probably 1,000 Afghans who have worked with us over two decades in Afghanistan, helped our troops, our aid workers, our diplomats, that we promised to protect, but we’re leaving behind.
‘And I know those troops in particular will feel our failure on this as a country is a betrayal of many of those who risked their own lives to work alongside us.
‘And I think what’s important now is that we may be giving up the airport, but we cannot give up on the Afghan people or fighting to try and protect the gains that they and our troops and our diplomats and aid workers have worked so hard over two decades to gain in Afghanistan.’
Boris Johnson has admitted he felt a ‘great sense of regret’ about the many hundreds that UK forces had been unable to evacuate from Kabul.
Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, said the fact people would be left behind filled him with ‘anger and shame’ and warned ‘we may find ourselves with the biggest hostage crisis the UK has ever seen.’
‘Quite rightly, British citizens and entitled persons are literally in fear of their lives right now.’
The former Army Lieutenant Colonel is one of a growing number of MPs from across the political spectrum to have accused the Government of ‘failing’ in its mission to keep Afghan staff safe by not completing the evacuations.
Mr Tugendhat added: ‘Defeat means you don’t get a say… we have just been defeated, we have no influence over Kabul anymore.’
And security sources said they feared that elements of the Taliban or Isis-K could capture vulnerable Afghans or UK citizens and demand a ransom.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of his ‘great sense of regret’ at those left behind.
He said: ‘Of course, as we come down to the final hours of the operation there will sadly be people who haven’t got through, people who might qualify.
‘What I would say to them is that we will shift heaven and earth to help them get out, we will do whatever we can in the second phase.’
Displaced families living in tents in Kabul. The advance of the Taliban across the country has forced thousands to flee their homes – many had headed for the relative safety of the capital only for it also to fall
Displaced women and children liiving in tents in Kabul after they were forced to flee their homes
Pictured: Afghan collaborators, their families, Spanish soldiers and members of the embassy board a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 27, 2021
Pictured: An Afghan man hands his child to a British Paratrooper assigned to 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment while a member of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug 26, 2021
British troops were seen securing the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate in Kabul on Thursday following the bombing
Pictured left: Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who travelled there from London to help his family. Pictured right: One of Mr Niazi’s daughters. As of last night, his wife, youngest child and eldest daughter were still missing, according to the broadcaster, with his brother and survivor of the blast – Abdul Hamid – saying ‘I saw some children in the river’
ISIS-K, short for ISIS Khorasan Province, are believed to be operating in the east of Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan
Pen Farthing could be the LAST British civilian to leave Kabul: Animal rescue plane is due to land at airport within hours where troops will help load 180 cats and dogs before take-off
By James Gant
Former Royal Marine turned animal rescuer Pen Farthing could be the last British civilian to leave Kabul airport, reports say.
The 57-year-old and his 180 cats and dogs could be left on the tarmac to wait for his charter plane to arrive from Karachi in Pakistan, Sky News said.
The Polish aircraft is expected in the Afghan capital in the next few hours but by that point all Britons – including UK ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow – may have gone.
The 57-year-old told how his employees were stopped from crossing the Taliban line to the British area at Kabul airport
Mr Farthing will fly from Kabul to Tashkent in Uzbekistan before later returning to Britain, where he has won legions of fans for holding the government to account.
But earlier he revealed how ‘depressing’ it was that he was forced to leave his Afghan staff behind.
He told how his employees were stopped from crossing the Taliban line to the British area at Kabul airport yesterday.
His desperate comments were in sharp contrast to his wife, who last night spoke of her joy that her husband was on his way home.
Kaisa Markhus, who fled Afghanistan last week for her native Norway, was eating dinner with her father in Oslo when she was told he was getting out.
It comes as the US military said it used a drone strike to kill a member of the so-called Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.
The strike came amid what the White House called indications that Isis-K planned to strike again as the US-led evacuation from Kabul airport moves into its final days.
A devastating suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 170 Afghans and 13 American service members at the airport on Thursday.
Mr Farthing flew out of Afghanistan for Tashkent in Uzbekistan with 94 dogs and 79 cats on a private jet and will later return to Britain.
But the day was marked with sadness as he was forced to leave behind his workforce to the Taliban.
He told the Sun: ‘It is just so depressing I had to leave them behind. Some of them came with me to the airport but they weren’t allowed to cross the line from Taliban to British control.
‘There were lots of tears when we said goodbye. I feel so many things. I feel very sad for them [but] I’m relieved for me and I feel happy for the animals.’
The Ministry of Defence, which assisted his evacuation, confirmed he was through the airport on Friday night.
One of the victims of Thursday’s Kabul suicide bombing has been named as Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who travelled there from London to help his family at the airport, according to the BBC.
As of last night, his wife, youngest child and eldest daughter were still missing, with his brother and survivor of the blast, Abdul Hamid, telling the broadcaster: ‘I saw some small children in the river, it was so bad. It was doomsday for us.’
According to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Niazi was a taxi driver from Aldershot who travelled to Afghanistan to rescue his family as the Taliban bore down on the city, and chaos led to scenes of mass panic at the airport.
It is feared that his wife and two of their daughters were also caught up in the bombing, and possibly killed, and the couple’s other daughter and only son are understood to have been severely injured, the newspaper reported.
He is understood to have flown from Heathrow to Azerbaijan, before travelling to Afghanistan in an attempt to take his family to safety.
Imran Naizi, a friend and member of the same mosque as Muhammad Niazi (of no relation), told The Telegraph that the Afghan community and Aldershot are mourning the loss of a dedicated family man.
‘None of us can believe this has happened. It is such a tragedy,’ he said. ‘He flew from Heathrow on Wednesday to make the dangerous journey to pick up his family for a better life here and he has been killed along with them. It’s unbelievable.’
It is unclear whether Mr Niazi is counted among one of the three British victims reported by the Foreign Office earlier on Friday.
International fury is mounting over U.S. president Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from the country, which led to the Taliban’s lighting-fast takeover of Afghanistan and in-turn sparked the desperate evacuation, with foreign countries being given a August 31 deadline to get their citizens out.
In the US, the fathers of two of the Marines killed in the bomb attack on Kabul airport on Thursday are blaming Biden for their deaths, saying he turned his back on the troops on the ground with his chaotic evacuation attempt that made them sitting ducks for ISIS-K.
Thirteen US troops were killed along with 170 Afghans at the airport when a single suicide bomber detonated his vest.
Among them were Navy medic Max Soviak, and Marines Hunter Lopez, Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza, Kareem Nikoui, Jared Schmitz, Ryan Knauss, Daegan Page, Taylor Hoover and an unnamed special forces soldier.
McCollum’s wrestling coach and a close family friend told DailyMail.com that ‘heads should roll’ over the debacle.
Ben Arlotta said he is furious at the Biden administration and blames the White House for putting soldiers in an unnecessarily dangerous position.
‘It’s a junk show, an absolute junk show. Not just for Rylee but for every serviceman and woman over there. They were put in a very terrible spot. In my opinion this entire circumstance has been mismanaged from every level,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘The only thing I can hope for is that accountability isn’t forgotten. Because for the 13 men who were killed yesterday, heads need to roll for the way things have gone.
Nikoui’s father Steve told The Daily Beast on Friday: ‘They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security. I blame my own military leaders… Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.’
Schmitz’s father, meanwhile, said: ‘Be afraid of our leadership or lack thereof. Pray every day for the soldiers that are putting their lives at risk, doing what they love which is protecting all of us.’
White House Secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words when asked on Friday about Biden’s pledge to track down the terrorists responsible for the deadly attack, saying that the president ‘does not want them to live on the earth any more.’
Her remarks came a day after Biden vowed that ‘we will hunt you down and make you pay.’
Soviak’s sister said in an Instagram post: ‘He was a f****** medic. There to help people and now he is gone and my family will never be the same.’
Soviak, believed to be in his early 20s, was named by his high school in Ohio. McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming while Espinoza, 20, was named by the local police department in Laredo, Texas, where he was born. McCollum was expecting his first child with his wife. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April.
Nikoui’s father added that he was relieved when his son signed up as a Marine when Trump was in office because he ‘really believed this guy didn’t want to send people into harm’s way.’
Najma Saddique, 21, from Kabul (pictured left) and her sister Zuhal (right). Ms Saddique was in her third year of a journalism course at the city’s university when she was killed in the horrific Kabul airport suicide bombing on Thursday
The Afghan Taekwondo Federation confirmed that Mohammad Jan Soltani (pictured), a member of the national taekwondo team, was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday. Pictured right: Wasiq Ehsan, a third-year student in literature and modern languages at Kabul University who also lost his life
U.S. Marine Kareem Nikoui, pictured with his mother, was killed on Thursday. His father said he blames Biden for abandoning them in Kabul
Navy medic Max Soviaks (left), Marine Rylee McCollum (center) and David Lee Espinoza, 20, who were both killed in the ISIS blast at Kabul airport
Jared Schmitz (left) and David Lee Espinoza, 20 (right)
As the Afghan victims of the horrific Kabul airport suicide bombing were being buried, friends and relatives spoke of ‘the best and the brightest of their generation being cruelly cut down in their prime.’
The faces of the tragic, mainly young, victims came from all corners of Afghan society, but they all shared a hope for a better life away from the Taliban‘s rule.
The funerals taking place across the city today ranged from that of a talented young woman journalist to a member of the Afghan national taekwondo team. Several families were devastated by the loss of more than one cousin or sibling, and one family lost four young men.
Afghan TV presenter Muslim Shirzad, 30, who tweeted many of the images of this tragic gallery of smiling victims, said families and friends had contacted him with the sad news.
The announcement of the three deaths came as Pentagon officials in the U.S. said that there was only one suicide bomber involved in the attack, and not two as had been previously claimed, further adding to the fears and confusion over the ongoing evacuation operation on the ground.
Speaking at a briefing on Friday, U.S. Army General Hank Taylor said: ‘I can confirm that we do not believe there was a second explosion at or near the Baron hotel. It was one suicide bomber. In the confusion of very dynamic events can cause information to get confused.’
He added: ‘We’re not sure how that report was provided incorrectly’, adding that it was ‘important to correct the record.’
The deaths at the airport have caused uproar in the U.S., with the fathers of of at least two of the Marines killed in the bomb attack blaming Biden, saying he turned his back on the troops on the ground with his chaotic evacuation attempt that made them sitting ducks for ISIS-K.
President Joe Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office at the White House on Friday. He did not take questions but made a brief statement on Afghanistan, saying it was a ‘dangerous but worthy mission’
Pictured: A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the August 26 twin suicide bombs, which killed scores of people, at Kabul airport on August 27, 2021
TV presenter Muslim Shirzad told MailOnline: ‘The generation which should have been Afghanistan’s hope has now become a generation of frustration and escapees.
‘Before the Taliban returned, Kabul was like the pulsing heart of Afghanistan’s talented new generation, but now it looks like a ghost city
‘Despite the threat of violence in Afghanistan, we had the motivation to go forward and be part of change in our country, but now we are just the audience at a horror movie and can’t control the outcome.
‘The youth of Afghanistan saw what happened two weeks ago as history repeating itself – a history they didn’t feel part of and wanted to escape.
‘These young people felt they had no choice but to feel from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, but instead they were cut down in their prime.’
Teenager Mohammad Jan Soltani had fought his way onto the country’s national taekwondo team, but was killed in the outrage, according to Svaka News Agency.
Najma Saddique, 21, from Kabul, was in her third year of a journalism course at the city’s university, but her poise in front of the camera had already bagged her an on-screen job with one of Afghanistan’s morning TV shows.
A friend told MailOnline: ‘The idea of a young woman appearing on TV was unthinkable under the Taliban before, but Najma and her sister Zuhal, who is also a journalist, don’t remember those days.
‘Najma was so hopeless when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan and she decided to try and escape the country with her brother Wasiq, 19, and her cousin.’
The friend said the three wanted to escape to Canada or the United States. ‘She just wanted to be safe. It was the third time they’d been to the airport and tried to get out.’
Zuhal, 22, now grieving with her parents and another brother said: ‘This has left us without any hope – our family is torn apart.’
Four young men, all members of the same family, named Taher, Naseer, Emran and Bilal, also paid with their lives after joining the crowd of desperate people trying to escape their country.
Abdul Khaber Ibrahimkhail, was a 17-years-old Frisbee enthusiast from Kabul who dreamed of coming to London, according to his elder brother Moner, 27.
‘My brother got a passport for the first time three months ago when the situation began to deteriorate,’ said Mr Ibrahimkhail, who escaped to Austria a year ago.
‘Before that point, he saw a future here and really wanted to be someone in his own country. He was in year 11 and was a member of the Afghanistan Frisbee Federation.
‘He went to the airport in the first wave of people with our sister and her husband, who was also injured. My family didn’t find my brother’s body until the next day.’
The Raheens were another family destroyed by the terrorist atrocity. Dr Khalid Raheen and his sons Milad and Ferdaws Raheen, both in their early 20s, were all killed in the attack.
Wasiq Ehsan was a third-year student in literature and modern languages at Kabul University who also lost his life.
The Raheens were another family destroyed by the terrorist atrocity. Dr Khalid Raheen (pictured top) and his sons Milad and Ferdaws Raheen (pictured bottom), both in their early 20s, were all killed in the attack
Four young men, all members of the same family, named Taher, Naseer, Emran and Bilal, also paid with their lives after joining the crowd of desperate people trying to escape their country. Pictured: A composite image posted to twitter showing the four family members
A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the terrorist attack which killed over 100 people outside Kabul airport
The British soldiers are seen securing the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel on Thursday night near a road which leads to the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport
Pictured: Members of Spanish National Police forces and military personnel who were stationed in Afghanistan disembark from the last Spanish evacuation flight, at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 km from Madrid, on August 27, 2021
Britain is planning to take out ISIS-K chiefs responsible for Kabul airport suicide bombing as PM tells of his ‘great regret’ at leaving Afghans behind
The UK was last night plotting the elimination of Isis-K leaders responsible for the Kabul atrocity as it emerged that two British nationals and the child of another Briton were among at least 170 killed in the attack.
Ministers said they were prepared to ‘take action’ to deal with the terror threat as the death toll continued to rise following the suicide bomb blast which signalled the biggest single loss of American troops in Afghanistan for a decade.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the deaths of two British adults as well as injuries to two others. It is understood the child who died was a teenager.
Mr Raab said: ‘These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists.
‘Yesterday’s despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.
‘We will not turn our backs on those who look to us in their hour of need and we will never be cowed by terrorists.’
Ministers said they were prepared to ‘take action’ to deal with the terror threat as the death toll continued to rise following the suicide bomb blast which signalled the biggest single loss of American troops in Afghanistan for a decade. Above: The aftermath of the blast
Papers left in embassy put Afghan allies in danger
The Defence Secretary has expressed fury at Foreign Office staff who left documents identifying vulnerable Afghans at the British embassy.
Ben Wallace said the security lapse was ‘clearly not good enough’ as it left the details of those who had been working with Britain free for the Taliban to find.
Speaking to LBC yesterday, he added that the Prime Minister would be ‘asking some questions’ about the failure to destroy the potentially life threatening information.
And Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said the debacle would form part of an upcoming Commons inquiry with ‘evidence already coming in’.
The blunder emerged when Anthony Loyd, a reporter for The Times, came across the documents while accompanying a Taliban patrol.
Papers scattered around a barbecue were found to identify seven Afghans – including a senior embassy figure.
They also revealed the details of two people applying for jobs.
Some of the staff members had already been evacuated to the UK, The Times found when reporters called the numbers listed. But the fate of at least two job applicants remains unknown.
The Foreign Office said ‘every effort was made to destroy sensitive material’.
Heartbreaking tributes began emerging last night to those named among the dead. Boris Johnson branded the attack ‘contemptible’ while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was ‘incredibly sad’ to learn that British nationals had lost their lives.
He added: ‘Getting your family to safety should not cost you your life. We must urgently help those left behind to avoid any more tragic deaths.’
Yesterday it emerged that the fatalities were the result of a single suicide bomb attack rather than two blasts as previously believed.
An Isis-K terrorist is thought to have detonated a suicide vest in the middle of families waiting for evacuation flights near a sewage canal by the airport.
Afghans were still desperate to escape yesterday as the clock ticked down on evacuation efforts with hundreds queuing by the sewage canal where bodies lay just hours earlier.
Among the dead was Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who had travelled from London to help get his family inside the airport, according to the BBC.
Last night his youngest child, eldest daughter and wife were still missing.
His brother Abdul Hamid, who survived, said: ‘I saw some small children in the river [canal]. It was so bad. It was doomsday.’
It is not thought that Mr Niazi was one of the British fatalities reported by the Foreign Office. At least 13 US military personnel were killed in the attack, including Navy medic Max Soviak, from Ohio, who was in his early 20s.
Yesterday his sister Marilyn described him as a ‘beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother.’
She added: ‘He was just a kid. He was a f****** medic. There to help people. And now he is gone and my family will never be the same.’
His former school said he was ‘well respected and liked by everyone who knew him’.
Three US marines killed in the attack were named yesterday as Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza and Kareem Nikoui.
Yesterday Mr Nikoui’s father Steve, of California, expressed anger that his son had been sent to Afghanistan as a ‘paper pusher’ with the Taliban ‘providing security.’
He insisted: ‘I blame my own military leaders… Biden turned his back on him.’ Mr McCollum, from Wyoming, graduated from high school in 2019 before joining the Marine Corps
Facebook pages appearing to belong to him and his wife show wedding photos from May and indicate that the couple were expecting a child.
Wyoming governor Mark Gordon wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rylee McCollum.’
Mr Espinoza, 20, was named by police in Laredo, Texas, where he was born.
The names of three other young marines killed also emerged on Facebook last night.
Tributes were paid to Hunter Lopez, 22, from California, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover from Utah, and Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, 20, from Missouri.
Earlier, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace indicated that Britain was ready to target Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan after the group claimed responsibility for the terror attack.
The splinter group Isis-K is named after Khorasan province, a historical swathe of eastern Afghanistan. Members view the Taliban as moderates.
Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are already on a mission to deal with Isis, whether they are in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else where they pose an imminent threat to UK citizens and indeed the interests of that country, or where we operate for mutual self-defence.
‘If Isis, as it clearly does, poses an imminent threat to the UK and its people, then under international law we have the right to take action and we will take action where we see that threat emerge – and we have the ability to do that.’
Mr Wallace refused to be drawn into the type of action, but insisted the UK had the ‘capabilities’ to deal with terror threats.
Later he suggested that the Armed Forces could target the leadership of Isis-K in the hope of eliminating the threat from lower-level fighters.
He told Times Radio: ‘There are lots of methods to find who is in charge.’
Referencing the mission to hunt down an Islamic State leader in north-west Syria in 2019, he added: ‘If you remember the United States raided and killed Al Baghdadi, the leader of Isis. It is possible to find the leadership of Isis around the world.’
Joe Biden earlier vowed to ‘hunt down’ those behind the suicide bombing and ‘make them pay’.
Last night the US President’s security team were warning that another terror attack was ‘likely’ in Kabul.
The UK’s ability to process any more evacuations from Afghanistan is now ‘extremely reduced’, the Ministry of Defence warned last night.
It said that 14,543 people had been extracted from Kabul since August 13, including 8,000 Afghans and their families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme.
Kabul animal rescuer Pen Farthing is accused of ‘costing lives’ as recording reveals his foul-mouthed rant threatening to ‘f***ing destroy’ an MoD official in the middle of Afghanistan airlift
By Glen Owen, Political Editor, Mail On Sunday
A former Royal Marine who founded an animal shelter in Kabul ‘cost lives’ as a result of his mission to evacuate 173 cats and dogs from Afghanistan, senior defence sources said last night.
Pen Farthing, who flew back to the UK last night with his menagerie of animals rescued by the Nowzad charity, has also been accused of ‘bullying’ British Government officials.
A leaked voice message obtained by The Mail on Sunday has revealed the behind-the-scenes bitterness over the airlift, with Mr Farthing telling an Ministry of Defence official that he would ‘spend the rest of my time f****** destroying’ him if he did not secure clearance for a flight out of the country.
The official, Peter Quentin, an adviser to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, is understood to have also received death threats from supporters of Mr Farthing as a result of his involvement in the animal rescue.
On the recording, which was shared by officials as part of an investigation into the alleged threats, Mr Farthing can be heard demanding ‘an ISAF number’ – a military callsign which has not been in use since 2014 – for a charter plane to take him, his animals and staff out of the Afghan capital.
Pen Farthing (pictured), who flew back to the UK last night with his menagerie of animals rescued by the Nowzad charity, has also been accused of ‘bullying’ British Government officials
Mr Farthing, who served 22 years in the military, accuses Mr Quentin of ‘blocking’ his efforts to leave the country, saying: ‘Here’s the deal buddy. You either get me that f****** ISAF number and you get me permission to get on that f****** airfield or tomorrow morning I am going to turn on you. The whole f****** country… is going to know that it is you.’
During the two-minute rant, Mr Farthing also says: ‘I served for 22 years for the Royal Marine Commandos. I am not going to take this b******* from people like you.’
Friends of Mr Quentin, who denies trying to block a flight, say he was particularly incensed by the ‘people like you’ line as he has also operated in Afghanistan – learning Dari in the process – and returned several times to conduct research and write a book on the conflict.
They also maintain that Mr Quentin had been personally helping with the evacuation of Afghans and to ensure Nowzad staff were on the evacuation list.
Mr Farthing’s publicity campaign has angered the MoD because of the distraction it has provided from the ‘core mission’ of airlifting refugees.
A defence source said: ‘This selfish charade has cost lives.’ Another source said the MoD’s help to evacuate animals meant ‘this is the first British Government explicitly committed to the idea of non-white people as equivalent to animals since the abolition of slavery.’
Yesterday, senior Tory MP and former soldier Tom Tugendhat issued a withering condemnation of the way MoD resources had been used for the animal evacuation.
Another source said the MoD’s help to evacuate animals (pictured) meant ‘this is the first British Government explicitly committed to the idea of non-white people as equivalent to animals since the abolition of slavery’
Mr Tugendhat, who served in Afghanistan, revealed how his former interpreter, who is now stuck in Kabul, asked him: ‘Why is my five-year-old worth less than your dog?
‘I didn’t have an answer,’ he says.
The MP, who is chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told LBC: ‘People have been focusing on the aeroplanes. It’s not the aeroplanes that are the problem. There’s quite a lot of space on the aeroplanes.
They are coming and going relatively easily. The difficulty is getting people into and out of the airport.
‘And we have just used a lot of troops to bring in 200 dogs. Meanwhile, my interpreter’s family are likely to be killed. We run an NHS in the UK that taxes us all about one in seven pounds we spend. What would you say if I sent an ambulance to save my dog rather than to save your mother?’
Mr Farthing’s flight left without charity staff who were prevented from entering the military-controlled area at Kabul airport, despite having been granted visas for the UK.
They had helped to bring the pets to the airport in two cattle trucks. Mr Farthing said armed Taliban militants stopped the Afghan staff from crossing into the British-controlled zone where they could board the privately chartered flight to the UK.
Speaking about his staff members, Mr Farthing, whose real name is Paul, said: ‘It is just so depressing that I had to leave them behind. Some of them came with me to the airport but they weren’t allowed to cross the line from Taliban to British control.
‘I feel so many things. I feel very sad for them, I’m relieved for me and I feel happy for the animals. There were lots of tears when we said goodbye.’
Carrie Johnson’s close friend Nimco Ali made a thinly veiled attack on Mr Farthing on Friday.
In response to a story posted on Twitter by the BBC which told how he said he ‘went through hell’ to reach Kabul airport only to be turned away, the activist wrote: ‘So have countless Afghans. But we don’t know their names and they might never get out.’
Reports had suggested that animal-lover Mrs Johnson had used her influence to lobby for Mr Farthing’s cause, but the Prime Minister firmly denied such claims.
Mr Quentin declined to comment last night and when the MoS contacted Mr Farthing’s wife, Kaisa, about the outburst, she also declined to comment.