Stranded American Citizen in Afghanistan to CNN’s Cuomo: ‘We Are Left Behind — It’s Heartbreaking to See That’

Monday on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” host Chris Cuomo was joined by an American citizen identified as “Sara,” who was unable to leave Afghanistan before the last U.S. military plane departed Afghanistan.

“Sara” told Cuomo there were 37 women and children in her home that she was trying to get them safe passage for out of Afghanistan, and did not know the U.S. plane had left.

Transcript as follows:

VOICE OF “SARA,” AMERICAN CITIZEN TRYING TO LEAVE KABUL, AMERICAN CITIZEN STILL IN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Just very sad to see the women, they have to kiss my feet. It’s heartbreaking. And I can’t leave them behind. I have 19 kids, in my house, and two of them are disabled. I feed them. I take care of them. I can’t leave this country.

Chris. I can’t leave. I can’t leave these families. They were there with us. They were, just like I did. And I can’t leave them behind.


CUOMO: Now, Sara is joining us from the phone in Kabul.

Sara, do I still have you?

“SARA”: Yes, sir. Hello, Chris.


Now, we were talking, before we came back out of the commercial.

But let’s pretend we weren’t, Sara, so everybody can hear the same details you already relayed to me. How do you feel on the ground there, now that the United States is gone? Is the mood shifting?

“SARA”: I just found out that they left. And I was just silent for a little while.

And I just went walk around the rooms. And I saw the young kids are sleeping. And they have no clue what happened this morning that the last flight is gone, and we are left behind. It’s heartbreaking to see that.

With all this, what’s going on, no one heard us that we are in danger, and we need to be safe. It’s just heartbreaking. I don’t know – I just don’t even know what to say to you.

And what – whoever was trying to help me and support me, even they did not tell me that the flight is – this is the last flight. So, I still had hope that we will leave. If not all of them are kids, some kids, and some mother, who had disabled kids, I had hope for them, at least they can leave.

But for past 48 hours, we were all, 37 of us, were on the street, going from gate to get, because they were – the State Department was giving me the instruction to follow. And I was doing that. We went gate to gate, places to places.

I failed to do that, because, yesterday, I was in front of MoI, and we had the chance to get in. But it was a lot of people there. But I started controlling the whole crowd.

I asked the crowd, “If you guys want to go to States, you guys have to allow me to talk to the military.” So, all the crowd pushed back. And I was the only person I was in front. I also sent the video. You can show that to the world, what I did.

And I just went there by myself. And I took six of the SIV kids, with me, with one of the guy, who I pretended that he’s my husband, with six kids, so I can pass all the checkpoints of Taliban.

I left all the family behind, in my house, And I went by myself to the airport, to see if I can make it – get out of here, so I can go to States, maybe I can start working, and home, and help those people, who I left behind.

But I went with six kids. And there’s three checkpoints. Taliban asked me who are they? So, my pretender husband told him that “She’s my wife. And these are my kids. And we’re trying to go to – we’re trying to go home.”

We didn’t tell them we’re going to the airport, because as soon as we tell them, we’re going to the airport, they wouldn’t allow us to go anywhere. So, we just told them that our house is on other side, and this is the only road that we can take us there.

So, we made it to reach to the gate that the State Department told me to go to. And I went there, and they told me all – they told me that “Make sure you have your umbrella with you. They will recognize you. Make sure you have a secret code.”

I said “OK, that’s fine. I’ll have that.” “And just get to the gate.” I said “OK.”

Now I got closer to the gate. And they just throw, a gas, I don’t know how to say that, the tear gas, or whatever, they put that.

And then I was keep messaging them. I said, “Hey, if they’re putting this gas, I cannot get in.” They’re like “Well they’re putting the gas, for you, so you can get in, closer to the gate.” I said “Fine.”

So, I got closer to the gate. And I knocked the door, and I used that secret word that they asked me to give. I had the umbrella really high, up high, so they know that it’s me. But nothing worked.

And then I finally got closer to the gate, and I saw the tower fill up, with all the American soldier, and some civilian, who had that civilian clothes on, and I start shouting “Hey, I’m an American. Please leave – open the gate. I’m here to go home.” So, they didn’t hear me.

And they throw another gas. And I was knocked out for like – for like maybe 15 minutes–

CUOMO: Jesus!

“SARA”: –I was knocked out. And I lost all the young kids. I did not even know where the kids were. And I have a picture of one of the bullets actually, the gas bullet hit one of the kids, and he’s hole – were ripped. So, that did not help. Then I told the crowd–

CUOMO: So, what happens now, Sara, like now that they’re gone? They say, “We’ll keep working with people there” that the Taliban has said that people can leave, if they want to leave, and the airport will be open. Do you believe any of that?

“SARA”: I don’t know anymore, what to believe anymore. I don’t believe in anybody anymore. Because they’ve been fooling me, for past 10 days, back and forth, back and forth, stories after stories.

I know, I have a group of people, who are supporting me, and helping me, and they are working very hard to, for me to leave this country. But the only thing is I don’t have one specific word to say, “OK, Sara, you’re clear! Go.”

And I’ve been doing this. And I don’t know what to believe anymore. I’m completely like, speechless. I don’t know what to say. But I just can’t believe no one told me that this is the last flight, you know? And this–

CUOMO: What is your biggest fear now, Sara?

Now look, all I control is what we do on the show, and the phone calls that we can make. And as I’ve said to you, more off television, than on, I will keep telling your story.

I will call anybody, who you tell us, you’re working with, to help understand the logistics, of how you get out, and the other people. That isn’t going anywhere that commitment, but that’s all we control.

And until we figure out, how you’re going to get out of there, what is your biggest fear now?

“SARA”: Am I safe? Now the question is my life. Am I safe? Are these people are safe? I don’t even think they are safe because they will be – they’re in my house, because now they are more targets than ever before because they are living in my house.

And I’m an American. I’m a former interpreter. I worked for 14 years. And what is next for us? We just smell the death. I’m afraid to let them go out, or myself to go out. There is 37 of them in my house right now. And what is next move for me? I have no idea. But I never felt like this. I went to so many different missions with military, so many different missions, in different provinces. I never had that heartbeat, like I have it today, this morning, when they told me the American left. They left us to whom? To those people, who they were always wanting to kill us?

And now, I’m by myself here, with 37 people. This is my fear that if American could not help me, when they were on the ground, how will they help me now, when there no one is here? That’s my question.

CUOMO: Well, that’s our question also.

“SARA”: Is anybody is going to come rescue me? That’s my–

CUOMO: And the President’s supposed to speak on it.

“SARA”: Is anybody is going to come rescue me?

CUOMO: The President’s supposed to speak about it yesterday, but – tomorrow.

“SARA”: Is anyone – anyone is going to rescue me now?

CUOMO: But Sara, listen, I don’t want to keep you on the phone either, because I understand that you don’t have all the time, to be on the phone. I know you got a lot of different things going on.

We will stay in touch. I will talk to you every day. And we will figure out what’s going on. And obviously, I’ll reach out, not on television, but I’ll reach out to–

“SARA”: But, sir?

CUOMO: –the people that you’re working with.

“SARA”: Chris?

CUOMO: Yes. Last word to you.

“SARA”: Chris, please allow me to mention one more thing, please.

CUOMO: Please?

“SARA”: I know it’s time. I asked – a few of my friends went to Qatar. And they’re reporting to me about what’s going on there. They told me 7,000 people are right now, are undocumented. They never worked with U.S. military. And they made it to the – to the Qatar.

And those people, who are really qualified, and I was screaming day and night for them, fighting for them, showing them their approval of SIV, and they are still here with me. This is what breaks my heart that–

CUOMO: Sara?

“SARA”: –our government system is so broke that they put so many people on aircraft.

CUOMO: Shoot! Listen, I mean, we’ve been hearing this–

“SARA”: Chris? Chris?

CUOMO: –by the way that they – who did they get out? Were they the right people? Were they not? We’re going to be hearing these stories.

Sara, your connection is breaking up. I’ll call you after the show. And we’ll loop back with each other, and figure out what the next step is for you. Stay safe. You understand that place, and how to keep yourself safe as well as anyone.

“SARA”: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: So, I’ll talk to you right after the show. Thank you for talking to me. And please keep up your hope, OK?

“SARA”: Thank you. You too.

CUOMO: Thank you. We’re doing.

“SARA”: We need prayers.

CUOMO: You need more than prayers. You need help with logistics, and a way out, and we’ll do whatever we can. All right, so God bless, stay safe. But I’m going to do more than pray.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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