Fatima fears she will never see her husband again after his two attempts to escape from Kabul in Afghanistan were violently aborted.
It has been more than a year since the couple last hugged each other. With the August 31 evacuation deadline looming, Fatima, who lives in Sydney’s west, worries he won’t get out.
Her husband is one of 200 people in Kabul who Sydney migration lawyer Anna Ryburn is desperately trying to help get to Australia. She shares Fatima’s fears and says his life will be at risk because he is part of the Hazara religious minority the Taliban has persecuted.
She said Fatima’s husband had ticked all the boxes required by the Australian government in their visa application. The Herald and The Age have not published the names of the couple to protect their safety.
“He’s not just a random Afghan at risk from the Taliban, he is the spouse of an Australian who has done all the checks,” she said. “Why would he not be part of the rescue mission?”
Read more: Sydney woman fears she will never see her husband again
International Security Director at the Asia-Pacific Foundation Dr Sajjan Gohel explains the origins of Islamic State-Khorusan, and why they have emerged in Afghanistan.
At the ongoing press conference with the Prime Minister, Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, Scott Morrison says the opportunities for getting anyone left in Afghanistan out of the country now “will be very restricted”.
He was asked twice how many people who had been given Australian visas were left behind in the country but didn’t give a specific number, saying only the list of those registered had grown each of the nine days Australian forces were running evacuation operations.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton says it will likely turn out that some people Australia had issued visas to ended up on planes run by other forces such as the British or Spanish.
“There will be a period of reconciling names of those who have been uplifted by partner countries,” he said.
Mr Morrison is asked how long it was between when the last Australian forces left and when people were told operations had ended, but he declines to make that timetable public.
“We made that decision based on, I think, the very astute advice from our defence forces, the intelligence services,” he said.
“That is the judgement that you have to make in very difficult situations like this.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we made the right judgement.”
In the days before the overnight bombings at Kabul’s airport, thousands of Afghans and foreigners had been flocking to the airport in an attempt to make it onto evacuation flights before the US deadline of August 31.
Foreign Affairs and international security correspondent Anthony Galloway reported on some of the scenes as recently as yesterday.
Warning: graphic image
Kabul: As the hours count down in the evacuation of Kabul, hundreds of former guards at the Australian embassy, and their families, queued in the sewage canal near the Hamid Karzai Airport before being told by soldiers on the wall they did not have the right visas.
Thousands of former Afghan guards, interpreters and families who assisted Australia, the US and British forces during the 20-year-occupation are waiting outside the Kabul airport to be given approval to leave the country.
One guard said: “The situation is unbelievable. People are jumping, falling off walls, there’s shootings.”
An Australian government spokesman said the airport opening near the drain was a side access point, not a gate, and it was telling its citizens not to go there.
Elsewhere, one man, posted a video of blood pouring from his head.
He said: “They [the Taliban] hit me. I am Australian citizen.”
Then, an armed man could be seen trying to grab his phone and a gunshot rang out.
Read more: ‘Save me. I helped you’: Desperate scenes outside Kabul airport
Foreign Minister Marise Payne urges Australians and visa holders still in Afghanistan to heed the travel advice, which warns people not to go to Kabul airport but instead to seek safety elsewhere.
“I cannot encourage strongly enough the following of that travel advice and I encourage those who are in Kabul, who have not registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to register,” she says.
“We know that this is a very distressing situation for Australians still in Kabul, for people with visas and for families and friends who are here in Australia.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton says the “barbaric actions” of those behind the bombing demonstrated exactly why Australia and allied forces had been in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister says the airport gate where the Americans were killed had been guarded by Australian Defence Force personnel just hours earlier.
“Our hearts sank when we heard this news. Sadly, it was not unexpected… but even events of that nature when they are sadly expected, still make your heart sink,” he said.
However, Australia managed to get all its Defence and Foreign Affairs staff out of Afghanistan last night, shortly before the suicide bombing.
More than 3200 Australians and Afghan visa holders were evacuated from the country by Australian forces and another 800 by our allies. Of these, 783 are already in Australia.
Mr Morrison said the US and UK were expected to stay in Afghanistan for a few days more but many other countries had also withdrawn overnight.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is speaking about the attacks outside the Kabul airport overnight, which killed Afghans and some US soldiers.
He says Australia’s rescue missions in Afghanistan have now ended.
He has already written to US President Joe Biden to convey Australia’s and his own “deep, personal sadness” about the deaths of the 13 soldiers.
“Australia condemns the evil, calculated and inhumane attacks that were undertaken in Kabul overnight on the innocent and the brave,” Mr Morrison says.
“We join our American and Afghan friends in mourning terrible and awful loss.”
We’ve just had word out of Canberra that Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be holding a press conference at 10.30am AEST, you can watch it here.
A Taliban official said the attack on Afghanistan’s Kabul airport was an act of terrorism that should be condemned by the whole world, adding the presence of foreign forces in the country was to blame, in a Turkish TV channel interview.
Former intelligence analyst and author David Wright-Neville has warned that he expects some form of American retaliation in coming days and weeks. Speaking on radio station 3AW he told Neil Mitchell the chaos in Afghanistan will continue as the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan wrestle for control.
We had pre-warnings of this attack likely happening so they’ve obviously got a line of intelligence into the group that’s responsible for it, which is Islamic State Khorasan province, so they probably use that intelligence to identify the part of Afghanistan that the orders to carry out these attacks came from.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised within the next few days we see some sort of military response in the form of drone attack or missile attack, certainly not boots on the ground, but some airborne attack.
I suspect the Taliban will be highly supportive [of retaliation], although there are some sort of shady links between the Taliban and this Islamic State faction at some levels of the Taliban, the current Taliban leadership cannot stand his group. They’re in really fierce competition with this Islamic State and part of this attack was probably to embarrass the current Taliban leadership.
It’s what we call the tragic term of a ‘conflict-rich environment’. That is a target-rich environment, it’s easy to carry out these sorts of attacks, there’s a lot of vulnerable people, in a state of panic trying to get out of the country. They’re easy pickings for groups like this.
I think the Americans are clearly going to withdraw by the 31st of August, which is the terms of the agreement signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban. Last year, they tried to negotiate an extension, I think the Taliban leadership, can’t really do that without alienating some of its supporters. So I think the Americans will withdraw on the 31st . And there’ll be other forms of evacuation taking place, whether they use some allies who probably aren’t as problematic in the Taliban’s eyes as the Americans or whatever, they’ll certainly be attempts by refugees to cross the border into Central Asia and so on, particularly the Hazara community who are Shiites, they’re particular targets of Islamic State and so the chaos will continue, but in a more decentralised way.