A Tennessee woman praised Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas for his efforts to help get a former Afghan interpreter, now U.S. citizen, who served alongside one of her family members into the Kabul airport.
The Afghani — whom she referred to as Joshua for security reasons — immigrated to the U.S. in 2014.
The move came following a stint when he served as an interpreter for her great-nephew with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010.
“If he considers him family, we consider him family,” the woman, referred to as Jane for purposes of this article, told The Western Journal. She attended Joshua’s citizenship ceremony in 2019, and he refers to her as his aunt.
Jane recounted that Joshua had been there when her great-nephew was injured by an IED attack.
When he returned from the hospital, Joshua embraced him and told him, “I’m so glad you are alive. I have been praying to God that you would be okay.”
This past spring, Joshua traveled to Afghanistan to start the process of bringing his wife and three children to America.
The fall of Kabul over the weekend trapped them behind the Taliban lines and sent Jane and her great nephew’s family into emergency mode.
“I got a text through WhatsApp 40 minutes before the Taliban was in his neighborhood,” Jane said, noting the group was going door-to-door.
Joshua’s family made three attempts to try to get to Hamid Karzai International Airport, but could not get through the Taliban militants, who had set up checkpoints around Kabul.
Finally, they succeeded in breaking through thanks to Jane’s and her great nephew’s on-the-ground connections in Afghanistan. “A friend, of a friend, of a friend,” Jane said.
“We had gotten he and his family into the front of the line at the Marine entrance and gotten him in, but it’s because we pulled out everything we ever knew and had been sending his pictures and paperwork everywhere,” she explained.
“I don’t know how some aunt, you know, how it is we got him in and the U.S. government [didn’t],” Jane said.
She expressed great frustration with the U.S. State Department’s lack of engagement with trapped American citizens but offered praise for Cotton, who is an Afghan war veteran.
“I can’t tell you how many times all we kept getting and continue to get are the, ‘Fill out this form, but shelter in place.’ They’re not communicating to these people at all,” Jane said.
“I do want to give a shout out to Sen. Tom Cotton’s office,” she said. “He’s been out there. He’s been helping us with all of that and giving us numerous options and answering questions,” she added.
“I mean, they’ve helped in every way in planning and preparing for every situation these last three days. I don’t know why our U.S. government is not doing it. I feel like I should go to D.C. and help get more people out.”
Cotton set up a hotline on Sunday for people stuck in the war-torn country to call or to email his office.
If you’re an American stranded in Afghanistan, or know one who is, please contact my office immediately:
(501) 223-9081 or
The situation is dire, but we’ll do everything in our power to help keep you informed and to help get you out.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) August 15, 2021
“And I want to thank Sen. Tom Cotton, who made us feel like this was the only one. And I know he is doing everything he can and even coordinating with other groups that are getting people out,” Jane said.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, Cotton expressed his own frustration with the U.S. government’s response to the crisis to date.
“The State Department put out an advisory today saying that they cannot guarantee the security of Americans trying to get to the airport,” he said.
U.S. Embassy in Kabul:
“THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT CANNOT ENSURE SAFE PASSAGE TO THE HAMID KARZAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.”
“Please be advised that a significant number of individuals have registered and space on these flights is available on a first come, first serve basis.” pic.twitter.com/cxQHNvIzU8
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) August 18, 2021
“So they are simply essentially saying that our citizens are on their own trying to get to the airport we have secured,” Cotton continued. “We have heard reports from people on the ground that that’s not the case with the British or the French.”
Following President Joe Biden’s announcement in April of his decision to pull U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of this month, the senator said he and his fellow lawmakers began asking questions.
“We pressed the Biden administration first on how they planned to get American citizens out of Afghanistan before the withdrawal, and second, how they planned to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida and ISIS and other terrorists. We’ve never heard any answers from that,” Cotton recalled.
“And it is the case that the military has gone into a very chaotic circumstance,” he added. “They’ve secured the airfield, but only the airfield — they have not been able to get any Americans out from behind enemy lines.”
At a news briefing on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he does not have the forces on the ground necessary to expand beyond the airport. There are approximately 5,200 soldiers on site, the Pentagon said Thursday morning.
“We have to make sure that we can not only secure the airfield, but as the chairman said, defend it as well, because there are a number of threats still in the environment,” he said. “We don’t have the capabilities to go out and collect up large numbers of people.”
SEC AUSTIN: “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people.” pic.twitter.com/k4cZESUav2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 18, 2021
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley suggested the U.S. military could engage in certain limited rescue operations, if directed to do so.
“We have capability to do other things if necessary,” he said, but the plan now is to work with the Taliban to allow safe passage.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.