Hundreds of students and alumni of American University of Kabul gathered at a safe house today and boarded buses in what was supposed to be a final attempt at evacuation on U.S. military flights, students and alumni said.
But after seven hours of waiting for clearance to enter the airport gates and driving around the city, the group met a dead end: Evacuations were permanently called off. The airport gates remained a security threat, and civilian evacuations were ending Monday.
“I regret to inform you that the high command at HKIA in the airport has announced there will be no more rescue flights,” said an email sent to students from the university administration this afternoon, which was shared with the New York Times.
The email asked the 600 or so students and alumni to return home. The U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan must be completed by a Tuesday deadline, so the U.S. military is turning from evacuating civilians to bringing its own personnel home.
The group was then alarmed to learn that the university had shared a list of names and passport information of hundreds of students and alumni with the Taliban guarding the airport checkpoints, said four students who were on the buses Sunday.
“They told us: we have given your names to the Taliban,” said Hossy, a 24-year-old sophomore studying business administration who was on the bus today. “We are all terrified, there is no evacuation, there is no getting out.”
When the Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15, one of the first sites the group captured was the sprawling, modern American University campus. Men in traditional Afghan outfits and swinging AK-47 rifles raised the flag of the Taliban and brought down the university flag, according to student and social media photos.
The Taliban posted a picture of themselves on social media standing at the entrance of a university building with an ominous message, saying they were where America trained infidel “wolves” to corrupt the minds of Muslims.