Afghan father whose teen fell off US cargo plane blames ‘Americans’

As the first anniversary of the disastrous US pullout from Afghanistan approaches, a victim of one of its cruellest tragedies finally has a name.

Zabi Rezayee, 17, was one of the distraught civilians who held on to the landing gear and wheel covers of a U.S. Air Force C-17 as it taxied down the runway at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 16, 2021 — just for the sake of it fall to his death on the tarmac, his father told London’s Sunday Times.

And nothing has been heard from Zabi’s brother Zaki, 19, who joined his attempt to escape from the Taliban, said Mohammed Rezayee.

“I’m hurt, I’m angry, but there’s nothing I can do,” said Rezayee, 42. “I buried a son and I don’t even know if the other one is dead or alive.”

Horrifying cellphone videos of young men holding the giant cargo plane as it took off and then falling helplessly to the ground as it gained altitude gripped the world as America’s war in Afghanistan came to its chaotic and ignominious end.

At least five potential stowaways were killed, although the exact number was never ascertained. Two landed in a residential area, splattering blood across a homeowner’s roof. One was found crushed in the plane’s wheel well when it landed in Qatar.

In this handout image provided by the Ministry of Defense, a full flight of 265 people are evacuated from Kabul by British forces August 21, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Zabi Rezayee’s father, Mohammed, asked why the US military exited Hamid Karzai International Airport with evacuees “detaining the plane”.
Ben Shread/MoD Crown Copyright through Getty Images

And two, including Zabi, fell back onto the runway.

“I blame the pilot and I blame the Americans who were responsible for airport security,” Rezayee, a father of eight, said bitterly.

“Why did the pilot make the decision to take off knowing people were holding the plane?” asked the distraught father. “I don’t think those who were holding on really believed the plane was going to leave.”

A U.S. Marine grabs an infant over a barbed wire fence during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2021.
A U.S. Marine grabs an infant over a barbed wire fence during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2021.
Courtesy of Omar Haidiri/AFP via Getty Images

The Air Force acquitted the plane’s crew of wrongdoing last month, reported.

The teenagers did not tell their parents about their escape plans.

“I found out when I got a call from them at the airport,” her father said. “They sounded excited, they said they were about to get on the plane. I was happy for them, glad they went somewhere safe because we were all so afraid of what would happen here if the Taliban were in control.”

The call only lasted a minute or two. “That was the last time I spoke to them,” he said.

Minutes later, a stranger called Rezayee from Zabi’s phone.

“The guy on my son’s phone said they found Zabi’s body,” Rezayee told Vice News this week. He ran the four miles to the airport. “I found him in pieces.” Someone had draped a scarf over the teen’s bare, fractured lower half.

But the father’s search in Kabul’s hospitals and prisons turned up no trace of Zaki, his eldest son.

“To date, I have never received any information about Zaki,” he said. His “tormented” wife “says a little prayer every time she hears her phone ring, desperately hoping it’s news.”

“It’s not knowing that’s the hardest thing to deal with,” he said.

“They were nice guys. They liked to play soccer,” Rezayee recalled. “They were educated. Zaki could speak English. He used to teach his younger siblings a bit.”

Taliban fighters on vehicles with Taliban flags parade along a street to celebrate after the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan September 1, 2021 following the Taliban military takeover of the country in Kandahar.
Citizens have been struggling with drought and famine since the Taliban took over.
JAVED TANVEER/AFP via Getty Images

The family struggled as the Taliban grip nearly starved half the country’s population. Without the help of his sons, Rezayee said he could no longer run his fruit and vegetable shop.

“It feels like a waste of time to be mad at my sons. I need to use that energy to find a way to support my remaining children,” he said.

“But I would give anything to know what happened to Zaki.” Afghan father whose teen fell off US cargo plane blames ‘Americans’


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