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East County father recalls family's journey out of Afghanistan

Posted at 9:51 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 10:15:57-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) – Asad, who is only using his first name, told ABC 10News that there was a feeling of worry and fear, as he and his family pushed their way to Kabul Airport and made it out of Afghanistan.

"There were like thousands of people outside of the airport,” Asad said. "Of course, I was worried about my family, my brother's family."

The El Cajon man traveled with his wife and four kids -- three of which he said are in the Cajon Valley Union School District -- to Afghanistan to visit family.

Asad did everything to keep everyone calm amid the chaos and gunshots ringing out in the air while trying to get into the Kabul Airport.

"My little daughter, she's like six, so I was like, ‘It's a tradition in Afghanistan when there is a wedding that they shoot in the air,’” Asad said.

“So I was just telling my little daughter that, ‘Don't worry it's a wedding, so nothing is going to happen,'"he said.

Asad told ABC 10News that he was also reminding his older sons, who are nine and 13, to be calm and that everything would be alright as well. But, he said that they were aware of what was going on.

After two days of trying to get into the airport, Asad was able to get his family and his brother’s family into the airport.

He said that his brother had just received an SIV visa about a month before the fallout in Afghanistan. They were on a flight back to the states about a day after they got into the airport.

"All of my kids, even my little daughter, she was happy to be on the plane. As soon as we got to Qatar, everyone was extremely happy,” Asad said. They then began their journey home.

Asad said they flew from Afghanistan to Qatar to Bulgaria, then Germany, only staying a few hours in each location.

The family made it stateside to Virginia, where they then stayed the night. The following day Asad and his family flew back to San Diego on August 24.

He said that he and his family are currently looking for a new home. Asad told ABC 10News that the original plan was to fly back on August 28th to secure a new place for him and his family after moving out of their previous home. But, the situation changed following the unrest in Afghanistan. But, being back home means something special for Asad’s kids.

"They were so excited to go to school and see their friends. And the next morning, when my kids woke up, and they got their backpacks to go to school that was a big moment for us,” Asad said.

As the family settles back into their lives in El Cajon, they are thankful for everyone who helped get them home. But there's more to be done for this father of four.

"I will also focus on how to bring my brothers back from Afghanistan. That's also my goal,” Asad said.

ABC 10News reached out to Rep. Darrell Issa’s office for comment on the developments on the Cajon Valley families returning to the San Diego Area.

A representative from Issa’s office sent us the following statement:

This week and last have run the gamut of emotions from elation at the news of everyone we helped escape Afghanistan, to the reality that so many members of our community were left behind and our work isn’t anywhere near complete to bring them home.

The Cajon Valley Union School District also stated that one family from the district was still in Afghanistan after the August 31 pullout.

Regarding the efforts to get that family and other American citizens still in the country out, Issa’s representative said the following:

While we are still working around the clock and with partners and contacts in our county and internationally, the absence of any American military or diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan has forced us to fundamentally change tactics and strategy. Multiple avenues open to us before the pullout are no longer viable. Our job just got more difficult and the circumstances of everyone we’re trying to help just got more dire.