Members of a rescue team that conducted a mission to evacuate an American mother and her three children from Afghanistan is accusing the US State Department of falsely taking credit for the rescue after blocking the effort.
The State Department, which has for weeks been blocking independent efforts to evacuate remaining Americans from Afghanistan, announced on Monday that the “U.S. has facilitated the safe departure of four US citizens by overland route from Afghanistan. Embassy staff was present upon their arrival.”
According to decorated Army combat vet Cory Mills and others with knowledge of the rescue effort, the State Department deserves little to no credit for the mother’s escape from Afghanistan.
Mills and a private team of military veterans managed to rescue the mother, Mariam, and her three children from Afghanistan despite the State Department’s roadblocks.
Thank you @CoryMillsFL!! ♥️
You and your team are heroes. Please keep up these exceptional efforts to rescue our citizens, allies, & SIVs. 🙏🏻 #Afghanistan #CoryMillsFL #THISisAmerica https://t.co/UmXt0Frfdw
— ProudAFBrat 🇺🇸 (@rep08191) September 7, 2021
The team was funded by private donors including the Sentinel Foundation, according to the New York Post.
Mills and his team worked for weeks to get Mariam’s family out of Afghanistan after Republican Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson alerted him to the family’s plight.
Mills’ team first sought to get the family aboard one of the last government flights out of Kabul, but she was unable to gain admission into the airport. The State Department repeatedly urged the four Americans to go to the airport gate, braving Taliban checkpoints along the way, only for them to be refused admission each time, Mills said.
The final time Mariam tried to enter the airport, a Taliban fighter pointed a pistol at her head and warned her not to come back. Shortly after that, Taliban fighters asked Kabul locals who knew Miriam how they could find her. Mills’ team rushed to get her and the children out of the city and into a safehouse.
It took multiple attempts and sleight-of-hand tactics that Mills compared to a shell game, but Mariam’s family finally crossed the border on Monday – just before the Taliban closed the checkpoint to prevent Americans from escaping, Mills said.
The State Department’s attempt to take credit for Mariam’s rescue is “absolute nonsense,” Mills told Fox News in an exclusive interview Monday.
“The fact that they’re spinning this, trying to take 100% credit when they didn’t track this family, when they placated this family, when the mother, who was under extreme stress and extreme pressure, reached out to the State Department multiple times and got no help.”
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News in an email: “The Department assisted four Americans depart Afghanistan via an overland route on Monday. We provided guidance to them, worked to facilitate their safe passage, and Embassy officials greeted the Americans once they had crossed the border.”
Mills told Fox and Friends Monday that the State Department exaggerated its role and had little to do with the rescue mission until the most dangerous part was completed.
“This is an attempt to save face by the administration for the Americans they left behind. This is a woman with three children from age 15 all the way down to two-years-old. And they did nothing to try to expedite this… But at the very last minute you have these ‘senior officials’ at the State Department trying to claim credit for this like ‘oh yeah look what we’ve done,’” Mills said.
“It’s like we carried the ball to the 99-and-a-half yard line and them taking it that last half yard and being like ‘look what we did.’”
Army Combat Veteran @CoryMillsFL just completed the first ground evacuation from Afghanistan and is pushing back after the State Department is taking credit for the rescues. pic.twitter.com/6aTYlh5DKC
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) September 7, 2021
Rep. Jackson was even more scathing of the State Department’s malfeasance.
“The only thing the Biden Administration seems to be good at is patting itself on the back for a job horribly done. This administration left my constituents behind in Afghanistan and now they’re lying about their role in getting these four American citizens out,” Jackson said.
“The State Department didn’t do anything for two weeks except put my constituents in danger and leave them stranded. I know this for a fact because my office has been working around the clock to get our people home with no legitimate support from State. Only after Cory Mills and his team got them into the third country did State offer support by securing tourist visas,” the congressman continued.
“Cory and his team are brave patriots. Praise God that American veterans have more resolve than Joe Biden or his State Department.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla, who was in Afghanistan last month helping with rescue efforts, disputed the State Department’s claim that their negotiations with the Taliban helped Mariam and her kids escape, calling it a “flat out, bold faced lie.” Mullin said the credit belongs to a “team of patriots who worked around the clock for two weeks to get them out, despite the many roadblocks from the State Department.”
“Mariam was one of the reasons we went in to Afghanistan,” Mullin told Newsmax on Monday. The Oklahoma congressman referenced reports from last week that claimed he’d threatened embassy staffers in Tajikistan, which he denied. Mullin explained that the State Department had told the ambassador of Tajikistan to stand down, and not help them in their rescue efforts.
“Now this very same State Department that told them to stand down and not assist us in any way, is now taking credit for four Americans which our team worked tirelessly to get out,” he said. Mullin said Mills’ team negotiated with Taliban militants to allow the family to pass the border.
“Yesterday, to be quite frank, the Taliban were being cordial. Today, they literally threatened to kill her,” Mullin explained. “And then to see the State Department go out and take credit for it? That is a flat-out disgraceful lie.”
The congressman added that if the State Department had allowed the rescue team to land at the Kabul airport two weeks ago, the family would have rescued that day. Instead, he said, they were forced to schlep the poor woman and her children 300 miles across Afghanistan through multiple Taliban checkpoints, where they were harassed and extorted for money, to get to the boarder.
Mullin said the State Department blocked the team’s rescue efforts by “putting out notices to the embassies” of surrounding countries not to assist. “Every place we went, they were blocking us,” he said. One ambassador, he said told him verbatim, “Representative Mullin, I’m so sorry, but Washington told me that I can’t assist you in any way.”
“[Sec. of State Antony] Blinken did nothing but stand in our way, over, and over, and over again,” he said.
Mullin said that when Republicans gain control of Congress, they will hold the administration accountable for its colossal failure in Afghanistan.