Since the last military flight out of Kabul and the Khider District Massacre, both events occurring on 30 August 2021, Chapman and Pritchard have co-authored numerous heartbreaking stories about Afghans in peril.
By Scott Chapman and Russ Pritchard
Operation Freedom Birds facilitates safe and reliable air transport for American Citizens and Afghan Allies, including asylum seekers currently hiding in Afghanistan. Acronyms associated with these categories include: AMCIT’s, SIV, P1, and P2. The acronyms represent human beings hunted by the Taliban. Primarily a volunteer organization with a pending 501C3 nonprofit status, Operation Freedom Birds does not hold a political view. It is a humanitarian operation to save lives in imminent danger from the Taliban. Through working relationships with other evacuation efforts and maintaining open lines of communication with the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Members of Congress, and numerous subject matter experts, Operation Freedom Birds provides transport from Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and operates strictly within airports and legal air spaces.
Flooded by requests from around the world, the unanimous message vocalized to Operation Freedom Birds is a fear-driven plea for help. In recent weeks, many have had friends and family tortured and killed by the Taliban; many are actively being hunted and in peril. Entire families, 15 or more, move every few days, hoping to stay ahead of the Taliban while waiting for a mechanism of transport to safety.
This is one story:
Tolo comes from a family with a long history of men who answered the call to defend Afghanistan. For the past 50 years, his family has been unified defending Afghanistan from those who sought to dominate its citizens. Tolo’s grandfather fought the Russians in the 1980’s; then his father fought the Taliban in the 1990’s. Survival and security has been a way of life for his family. “I finished high school in Afghanistan in 2005. Afghanistan was free then, and I had many choices,” says Tolo. “I chose to work for the American Army as a translator.”
Tolo’s service with the United States military intensified over the years. By 2011 his skillset was sought and utilized by several Special Forces (SFOD-A) groups. Due to his attachment to Special Operations (SOF) teams, the Taliban labeled Tolo an infidel traitor and issued death threats to his family. Tolo notified his Special Forces teams about the threats; then continued supporting the American military forces. The threats to his family further fueled his drive to eradicate the Taliban. They eventually captured Tolo’s uncle, who was working for the United Nations. They stabbed him multiple times, maiming his left leg and leaving him permanently impaired. This attack was a direct message to Tolo.
“The Taliban were looking for me because I was helping the Americans. When they couldn’t find me, they went after my family to try and draw me out,” says Tolo. “They stabbed my younger brother six times. It’s a miracle he’s still alive. He was just an innocent kid.” The Taliban told him, ‘This is what you get for having a brother working for Americans. Tell your family we will do the same to all of you.’” Tolo moved his brother from hospital to hospital because the Taliban sought to finish the job and kill him. It was a race to stay ahead of the Taliban’s scouts. Over the course of a year, he and his brother walked across multiple countries, border crossings, avoided countless security checkpoints, and hiked over part of the Himalayan mountain range until they reached an undisclosed country in Europe; where they were finally granted asylum status. Their status is only good for five years. His time is almost up.
Tolo received numerous letters of recommendation and certificates attesting to his service with the American Military over a ten-year period.
On an official United States Marine Corps letterhead, one such letter states the following (15 February 2013):
At the time of this writing, Tolo’s sister, her husband, and their three children are hiding in Afghanistan. His sister, an SIV applicant who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and taught girls how to read; A severe crime punishable by death under Taliban rule. His sister fled her home days before the Taliban arrived. They occupied her home and used it as a Taliban fighting position. A matter of convenience and psychological warfare. Her home was then destroyed from the air. All of her possessions and priceless validating documents evaporated when her home was bombed.
“The only emotion they now know is fear. They’re terrified the Taliban will eventually find them and end their lives in the most horrific way possible. They’re forced to move every twenty-four to forty-eight hours. They have lost their home. They have lost everything. All they have left is their lives and the clothes on their back.” says Tolo. “ They’ve been on the run since The U.S Military pulled out. It’s been almost eight years since I’ve seen my sister, and now they are being hunted because of my loyal service to the United States. We need help, and we need it now!”
Help bring Tolo’s family to safety. Help Operation Freedom Birds
Scott Chapman is an independent journalist, author, former Army Ranger, OGA Blackwater contractor, entrepreneur, husband, dog lover, and astrophysics scholar. Scott is the co-founder of the Afghan Medical Corps and can be reached at ScottChapmanAuthor@Protonmail.com
Russ Pritchard is an independent journalist, professional writer, former Chief Marketing Officer, flight medic, triathlete, husband, father, and grandfather. Russ is the co-founder of the Afghan Medical Corps and can be reached at RussPritchard@Protonmail.com