How U.S. Afghans Watch the Chaos with Horror

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In California, wherever galore Afghans resettled aft the American invasion, those who worked with the U.S. fearfulness for relatives near behind.

Sayed Sayedi, left, and Ho Karimi looked done  images of Afghanistan that had travel  from friends, household  and societal  media successful  Fremont, Calif., connected  Monday.
Credit...Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Aug. 17, 2021, 1:48 p.m. ET

SACRAMENTO — They telephone themselves the fortunate people, the Afghans who made it retired successful time.

Lucky, they say, but guilt-ridden, shocked and angry.

Tens of thousands of Afghans person resettled successful the United States successful the 2 decades since the American penetration of Afghanistan, immoderate of them arriving arsenic precocious arsenic a fewer days ago.

This week they described the anguished conversations with the household members they near down and the piercing fearfulness that the Taliban, the country’s caller masters, mightiness retaliate against their relatives.

“What is going to hap to them if they get a sound connected the door?” said Rizwan Sadat, who flew into the United States from Afghanistan past week aft a vocation moving for American and planetary assistance agencies. “Our hearts are crying for them, for our brothers, for our sisters, for our mothers.”

Nothing has reassured the Afghan men and women present surviving successful America, not the videos posted by their friends connected societal media of the quiet, deserted streets of Afghan cities nor the statements by the Taliban that they are readying an “inclusive government.”

Mohammad Sahil, a erstwhile worker astatine the United States Agency for International Development successful Afghanistan who resettled successful Sacramento respective years ago, said the images of hopeless residents clinging to airplanes successful Kabul tin look astir unreal to Americans.

“This is benignant of a movie oregon a play for the United States,” Mr. Sahil said. “When you ticker a movie, possibly you are frightened but past you locomotion retired of the movie theater.”

“But this is existent for us,” Mr. Sahil said, referring to the trauma of knowing his relatives are inactive successful Afghanistan. “We haven’t slept, we haven’t eaten. I can’t work.”


Credit...Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

At slightest 132,000 foreign-born Afghan immigrants were surviving successful the United States arsenic of 2019, according to the American Community Survey, on with younger generations who were calved successful this country. Afghans person migrated to the United States successful waves, aft the Soviet penetration successful 1979, during the archetypal Taliban regularisation successful the 1990s and aft the American penetration successful 2001.

In the 1980s, resettlement agencies moved galore of them to the San Francisco Bay Area due to the fact that it was cheap, a assemblage programme provided taste resources and the upwind reminded Afghans of their home, said Rona Popal, the enforcement manager of the Afghan Coalition, a assemblage assistance organization. Afghans person besides congregated successful New York, Sacramento, successful Southern California and successful Virginia.

Even Afghans who person lived successful the United States for decades accidental they felt a pit successful their tummy watching the velocity of the Taliban takeover.

“We’ve each near a small portion of ourselves successful Afghanistan,” said Khaled Hosseini, the writer of the 2003 champion seller “The Kite Runner” who settled successful San Jose 4 decades ago. “Although we person established lives successful the United States, we person an affectional involvement successful what happens successful Afghanistan.”

Over the past fewer days resettled Afghans person spoken by telephone to relatives successful Kabul who described harrowing moments and the anxiousness of not knowing what comes next. Relatives told them that the Taliban were roving door-to-door to question radical astir their connections to Americans. One antheral described however a erstwhile workfellow was sleeping successful a antithetic location each nighttime to evade interrogation. Relatives person deleted photos and messages from their phones, anticipating that they mightiness beryllium seized.

A pistillate successful California described however she was alarmed erstwhile a telephone to her sister-in-law successful Kabul was punctuated by gunfire.


Credit...Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

And successful 1 of the astir harrowing stories relayed to relatives here, a antheral described however his mother’s aunt was trampled to decease connected Sunday nighttime portion trying to committee a plane.

“People couldn’t respire connected board,” said Shah Mohammad Niazy, who worked with the United States subject erstwhile helium was inactive successful Afghanistan. “She died connected the crushed earlier it took off.”

Afghan Americans accidental they are committed to getting their extended families retired of the state and into the United States. But they are nether nary illusions it volition beryllium easy.

On a thrust done an Afghan vicinity successful Sacramento, Yasar Ghafoori, a erstwhile subject quality interpreter for the U.S. Army successful Afghanistan, said helium planned to get $20,000 to get visas and level tickets for 34 members of his extended family.

As helium pointed to two-story flat blocks wherever hundreds of Afghan families rent two-bedroom apartments for astir $1,200 a month, Mr. Ghafoori said America was a paradise for him.

“But not without my family,” helium said. “My household is everything for me.”

Mr. Ghafoori, who is single, has urged his parents, brothers and sisters to permission their location successful Nangarhar Province — “leave everything,” helium said. He volition find the wealth somehow.

Farhad Yousafzai, an security agent, knows however hard that tin be.

He extracted his 2 brothers from Kabul connected a formation to Turkey past week but lone aft what helium described arsenic “black market” dealings.

And adjacent with tickets successful their hands, the hose threatened to cancel their reservations successful favour of passengers consenting to wage more. The brothers prevailed but it was “very, precise difficult,” Mr. Yousafzai said.

The taste bosom of the Afghan assemblage successful the United States is Fremont, a chamber assemblage connected the borderline of Silicon Valley wherever Tesla assembles its electrical cars. Representative Ro Khanna, the congressman whose territory includes portion of Fremont, estimates that 100,000 Afghans unrecorded successful area. As location prices person climbed supra $1 million, immoderate Afghans person moved to cheaper parts of the country.

But the metropolis inactive retains Afghan kebab shops, mosques and a fig of specialty markets.


Credit...Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Maiwand Market is filled with families buying loaves of naan and caller cuts of halal lamb and goat meat.

Behind the breadstuff antagonistic connected Monday day was Ho Karimi, who was showing a bid of video clips from Afghanistan. Sayed Sayedi, a plumber buying astatine the market, peered astatine the images and shook his head. “It’s a large tragedy,” helium said.

Afghanistan has been successful a near-perpetual authorities of warfare for the past 4 decades, yet Afghans inured to that suffering said they were inactive stunned by however rapidly the state had fallen to the Taliban.

In San Diego, a young pistillate named Mya described the fearfulness and uncertainty that accompanies her family’s attempts to pass with relatives inactive successful Kabul.

They shudder erstwhile nary 1 picks up the phone.

She and her household person been moving with an migration lawyer to relocate her aged grandma to the U.S. Until then, her household is enduring a hold that feels excruciating.

“All we tin bash is pray.”


Credit...Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

Mr. Khanna said his bureau had been “bombarded” by calls asking wherefore the United States seemed truthful ill-prepared for the illness of the Afghan government. Mr. Khanna, a Democrat, is captious of the Biden’s administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal.

“The question that radical support asking maine is wherefore couldn’t they person evacuated radical earlier they pulled retired troops out,” Mr. Khanna said. “What is shocking and hurtful is the deficiency of capable interest for our allies, for susceptible Afghans, for women and children.”

As they ticker the turmoil, Afghans successful the United States are clinging to the thinnest reed of anticipation that the Taliban recognize that Afghanistan is not the aforesaid spot that they ruled successful the 1990s.

Mr. Hosseini, the author, says a people of municipality professionals, which includes galore women, has helped marque Afghanistan into a “vastly antithetic country.”

“I anticipation the Taliban recognize that whips and chains and guns and gallows is not the mode to tally a country,” helium said.

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