The myth of an Afghan man who fell from the sky


Fada Mohammad used to be one of quite a lot of other folks that died after clinging to a U.S. military airplane as it took off from the Kabul airport.

Of us elope alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport airplane as it moves down a runway on the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021. AP

By Gerry Shih, Niha Masih and Dan Lamothe, Washington Post

As the Taliban encircled Kabul on Aug. 15, Fada Mohammad suggested his family about what he’d considered on Fb: Canada and america had been airlifting anybody who wished to head away out of the Kabul airport.

But when Fada wished to head himself, recalled his father, Payanda Mohammad, he didn’t mention it.

The younger dentist never reached either country. The next day, he didn’t invent it beyond a rooftop four miles from Kabul airport, the build his body used to be chanced on after he plunged from a U.S. military airplane as it took off – one of basically the most tragic and indelible photos within the closing chapter of the U.S. advertising and marketing and marketing campaign in Afghanistan.

Within the 10 days since then, many details of the chaotic events at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport dwell unknown. Fragments of videos taken by bystanders, which instant went viral on social media, confirmed glimpses of an unprecedented scene as a full bunch of Afghan civilians swarmed the Air Force cargo transport on the tarmac in a desperate try to salvage on board.

In a single video, on the least a dozen other folks had been on high of touchdown tools hatches as the airplane accelerated down the runway. In a single more, two bodies fell from the airplane as it climbed skyward.

Yet another smartphone clip confirmed the aftermath: on the least four immobile bodies on the airport tarmac, randomly spaced along the length of the runway. A promising teenage soccer player used to be amongst other folks that died. So used to be Fada.

The Air Force said a C-17 crew decided to “creep away the airfield as instant as that that it is seemingly you’ll be ready to take into consideration” that day on myth of the deteriorating security bother. U.S. officials later chanced on crushed human remains inner the wheel successfully. The Air Force has pledged an intensive investigation to “prevent a bother like this from happening again.”

In Kabul, residents are grappling with questions of their have.

Wali Salek, who has lived 20 years in Kabul’s Panjsad Household neighborhood, wonders how be troubled might perchance well well strike from the sky, sending two bodies, including Fada’s, crashing onto his cracked roof like “an explosion” going off.

Within the metropolis’s outskirts, Fada’s father wonders why his eldest son went to the airport that morning with out telling him. He asks why the pilot lacked “humanity” and decided to capture off at the same time as other folks hung on.

“If any individual is clinging onto the airplane, does the pilot enjoy the moral to cruise? Is that this simply?” Payanda said Tuesday. “It used to be like killing a mosquito that you simply end no longer even capture into myth human.”

– – –

Fada used to be born in 1996 or 1997 – Payanda Mohammad doesn’t be conscious precisely when – as the Taliban seized Kabul for the first time.

The eldest of 10 youngsters, the boy grew up surrounded by nature within the hill metropolis of Paghman, west of Kabul. The family’s four-bed room house had a yard crammed with murky-red cherry bushes.

Mohammad sold dresses with his relatives for a living and struggled to present for his youngsters. But in put up-Taliban Afghanistan, he saw in Fada the chance of upward mobility.

The family scraped collectively ample money to send him to the deepest Shifa College in Kabul to scrutinize dentistry. After graduating, Fada opened a health center with an excellent friend come Kabul’s Shaheed Square, earning about $200 a month, per his father. Final 365 days, he sold noteworthy of the family’s land and went carefully into debt, borrowing about $5,000 so Fada might perchance well well salvage married.

Mohammad said his son regarded as as more scrutinize and perchance a elaborate level. Mohamad Basir, Fada’s cousin and most productive glorious friend, said they yearned to head away the country – despite the indisputable truth that it used to be largely a dream.

“We thought a lot that one day, shall we creep abroad, however didn’t talk about it too noteworthy,” Basir said. “It’s miles predominant pay so noteworthy money, and his family weren’t simply economically.”

With the Taliban advancing in early August, the most incessantly elated Fada grew to alter into anxious, in doubt of what would occur in a destabilized atmosphere to any individual who used to be educated and on the upward thrust, Mohammad said.

In Kabul, limitless others feared the same and streamed toward the airport, hunting for a model out. On Aug. 16, Fada left house at 8: 30 a.m. with out a discover – headed to the health center, his family assumed.

On the airport that morning, Air Force officials enjoy since defined, the cargo airplane in ask used to be touchdown. It used to be surrounded nearly as soon as it touched down by civilians who had breached the airport zone’s perimeter, and the crew decided nearly without delay to capture off again with out unloading its provides for the evacuation effort.

Andrew Inman, a feeble British Royal Air Force pilot who has performed evacuation operations in Africa and has flown into the Kabul airport on loads of events, said the crew would had been ready to search out other folks in front of them on the runway however had been perchance to no longer enjoy considered or heard other folks with out warning clinging to the undercarriage.

“I contemplate at that time the confusion used to be such that, in actuality if [the plane] had stopped, there would had been more injuries and complications,” Inman said.

Videos from the scene present two Apache helicopters hovering barely above the bottom in front of the C-17 and attempting to brush the runway sure of oldsters. As the four huge engines began to throttle up for takeoff, many of the men hanging on dropped away and ran alongside the airplane.

Others held on.

– – –

Salek, a security guard at Kabul’s Mandawi market, used to be sleeping at house spherical noon when he thought he heard an explosion above him.

When he reached his roof, he chanced on Fada’s body in a water tank. Nearby used to be one more body, later identified as that of an 18-365 days aged from east Kabul.

A video shot by Salek’s son displays neighbors gathering on the roof spherical each bodies, now laid on stained blankets. The crew carried them to a inner sight mosque, the build any individual checked the men’s pockets and chanced on their national identification playing cards and phones.

Fada’s father, mother and sisters had been known as to the mosque, the ladies collapsing on his body in wretchedness. “It used to be like the end of the sector,” Mohammad said. “The worst second of my life.”

That evening, 500 pals and relatives gathered in Paghman as men diminished Fada right into a grave surrounded by a white and gold fence.

Sajjan Gohel, the international security director on the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London-basically basically based entirely contemplate tank, expects more chaos to play out in Kabul sooner than the U.S. military’s withdrawal on Tuesday, a date President Biden says will withhold. On Thursday, explosions outside the airport killed more than a dozen U.S. Marines and civilians.

The closing days “might perchance well well also salvage more fright, uncertainty and more tragic photos at Kabul airport,” said Gohel, who when in contrast the airport videos to the photos of oldsters falling to their deaths after jumping from the burning World Commerce Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001 – the terrorist assaults that brought regarding the U.S. warfare in Afghanistan.

Each and each of the other folks touched by Fada’s death remains deeply shaken.

Salek says he understood anxieties had been operating excessive in Kabul. Many outlets in Mandawi market had been closed. Ladies folks had largely disappeared from the streets.

“Clearly other folks must cruise,” he said. “But as a doctor, any individual educated, [Fada] must enjoy some common sense, to know better than cling onto a airplane.”

Mohammad has a sure gape. His son must enjoy known the hazard, he says, however believed the airplane would never capture off in that bother and that he would then enjoy had of project to barter a passage to america.

“We all enjoy a sense of humanity, so [the pilots] knew better than to capture off,” he said angrily. As a replacement, they “created an image that dehumanized the Afghan other folks.”

Fada’s cousin is aloof struggling to present his loss.

“His time used to be over,” Basir has decided. “It used to be written in his destiny.”

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