NEW YORK – 23 American citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are resting safely in the United States after arriving at JFK International Airport at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening from Kabul, Afghanistan following a successful evacuation conducted by Project DYNAMO, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing Americans, allies, and vulnerable Afghans left behind by the US government in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The actions of a forward-staged Project DYNAMO team, led by Bryan Stern and Abdul Wasit, both combat veterans, resulted in the safe return of four American citizens and 19 Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. – 11 of whom were children as young as four years old.
After rendezvousing at an undisclosed location near the capital city of Kabul on Thursday, all evacuees were provided with required vaccinations, food, water, shelter, and COVID-19 PCR tests. Thereafter, those being exfiltrated were quietly bussed to Kabul International Airport where they departed via aircraft.
Early morning on Friday, 23 American evacuees successfully boarded a plane in Kabul, Afghanistan, and departed for the United Arab Emirates. After an overnight layover, the 23 American evacuees and the three-man Project DYNAMO team left Dubai shortly after midnight on Saturday bound for Italy. After refueling, Project DYNAMO and their evacuees began the last leg of their journey to JFK International Airport.
“It’s an indescribable feeling when the plane’s wheels touch down on American soil, but there are still so many left behind that need to be evacuated,” said Stern, co-founder of Project DYNAMO. “We want to especially thank our generous donors and supporters that played a huge hand in getting these people out of Afghanistan and safely back home including Jim Dager, Drexel Hamilton, and others in addition to the US Department of Homeland Security in New York City. For those still trapped in Afghanistan looking for a way out, please know we haven’t forgotten about you.”
The logistics of this mission have been in planning since their last large-scale evacuation in December, where the team went to Kabul and evacuated 47 American citizens and lawful permanent residents, returning them to the U.S. This UAE-based operation took place with team members from Project DYNAMO forward-staged for less than 24 hours on the ground.
With delays from the U.S. State Department and an Afghan economy in quick decline, Project DYNAMO was the last hope for many of those rescued.
For Taj Momand, one of those evacuated by Project Dynamo, the Afghanistan situation turned dire very quickly while he and his family of five were in the country to celebrate his brother’s wedding in September.
Since August, Momand and his family have been reaching out to many organizations to get them out of Afghanistan, including the State Department, to no avail. After hearing about Project DYNAMO less than two weeks ago and contacting them, the group had an evacuation plan in place for Momand and his family within 24 hours.
“I want to tell the world that Project DYNAMO risked their safety to ensure my family’s return to America,” said Momand. “Thank you for rescuing us, saving our lives, and bringing us back home.”
Another evacuee, Naser Majroh, was at Camp Baron near Kabul International Airport working as a private sector advisor when the Taliban took over in August and witnessed the mayhem that ensued when thousands of people clamored to the airport to escape.
“We were able to make plans with the U.S. State Department, but were unable to get to our gate because so many people were trying to leave,” said Majroh, who has been caring for 14 family members for the last five months. “The Taliban were hitting us, shooting into the air; my son’s arm was broken [by the Taliban] while I was presenting his U.S. passport, so we had to wait until he healed before we could leave Afghanistan.”
In the past week, Project DYNAMO s helped provide food and readied Majroh’s family to evacuate in a week’s time.
“My wife was crying tears of joy when we arrived,” said Majroh. “Project DYNAMO is truly our hero and I want to thank them personally for what they have done to bring us home.”
Project DYNAMO was able to complete their evacuation on schedule despite the challenges airlines are facing following AT&T and Verizon’s 5G rollout, which some of the nation’s largest airlines said would interfere with aircraft technology, causing massive flight disruptions and potentially leading to thousands of flights being grounded or delayed, according to the Associated Press.
Dubai-based Emirates, a key carrier for East-West travel, announced it would halt flights to Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, New Jersey, San Francisco, Seattle and Orlando, Florida due to “operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.”
Emirates announced it would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
Additionally, while organizations like Project DYNAMO have been leading rescue efforts since the Biden administration’s controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan on Aug. 30, U.S. Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) is now pushing for oversight of taxpayer spending by the U.S. Department of State needed to assist in evacuating stranded Americans and their Afghan allies who remain in the region.
On Tuesday, Rep. Kim sponsored the Rescue Endangered SIVs and Citizens and Urgently Evacuate to Safety (RESCUES) Act of 2022, H.R. 6418, which would establish congressional oversight of the U.S. State Department’s management of private Afghanistan evacuation operations.
According to the bill, a “covered individual” would be a national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, an Afghan who has a special immigrant visa or applied for one, or an Afghan national who is being processed under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
To date, more than 2,000 Americans and lawful permanent residents have been rescued from Afghanistan by Project DYNAMO via air and land safely and legally, but Stern says the mission is far from over.
“We’re not stopping until every last U.S. citizen and permanent resident who wants out of Afghanistan is back stateside,” said Stern. “While we’re expecting the State Department to provide assistance soon, the fact is our operations are completely funded by generous donors. The more donations we get today, the more people we can save tomorrow.”
Those interested in donating to or supporting Project Dynamo can do so by visiting www.projectdynamo.org.
Derived from “Operation Dynamo,” the codename issued to the Dunkirk evacuation operation of World War II, Project Dynamo is a privately run, donor-funded evacuation operation being run by extraordinary civilians attempting to do the impossible — rescue Americans, Allies, and Afghans who are fearing for their lives in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.