The organizer of a private mission to rescue an American mom, Mariam, and her three children from Afghanistan says the U.S. State Department is now trying to take credit for the rescue, despite playing little to no role.
Senior State Department officials on Monday announced 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.” But those involved in the rescue operation say the State Department deserves little to no credit for Mariam’s escape from Afghanistan.
Cory Mills and a private team of military veterans, drawing on funding by private donors including the Sentinel Foundation, led the effort to rescue Mariam and her three children from Afghanistan, where they had been left behind, multiple sources with knowledge of Mariam’s evacuation told Fox News.
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.
Plan B was to get Miriam and her family aboard a private charter flight from Mazar-i-Sharif airport, but the planes were never cleared to take off. Some private evacuation organizers have blamed the State Department for failing to gain clearance for private charter flights to land in third countries, while Republican Texas Rep. Michael McCaul has blamed the Taliban for the planes remaining grounded.
Mills’ final plan was to travel overland to a neighboring country – the exact country is being withheld to avoid jeopardizing future rescue missions – and attempt to get the family across the border. 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 public posture about 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, when asked whether the agency is overselling its role in Mariam’s rescue, 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.”
But Mills and others with knowledge of the operation say the State Department is exaggerating its role and had little to do with the rescue mission until the most dangerous part – getting Mariam and her children across the border – 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’” [FOX].
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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