Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Update August 31, 2021:  One local family with three Children in the Cajon Valley district has been left behind after the U.S. troop withdrawal,  10 News supports. A district spokesperson said they are exploring ways to bring them home.  The other Cajon Valley familes have been safely evacuated and some students are now back in school. 


Over 104,000 civilians have been evacuated by U.S. in past 10 days; airlifts continue despite bombings as Biden vows retaliations against ISIS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of the Pentagon: U.s. Air Force personnel help evacuate Afghan civilians at the Kabul airport on Aug. 24

August 26, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – After today’s deadly terrorist attacks near the Kabul airport, concerns are heightened over the fate of some Cajon Valley Union School District students and their families. Around two dozen students and their families who traveled to visit relatives became trapped in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, the district announced earlier this week.

Today, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that four of the local families have escaped and two have arrived safely in Southern California. But the whereabouts of five other local families, including 14 children, remains unknown.

“We are still working in coordination with Congressman (Darrell) Issa’s office for the safe return of the remaining families and students still stranded there,” district spokesperson Howard Shen told the newspaper, adding that counseling is available for students. Supervisor Joel Anderson also sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging intervention by the military to help students and their families scape.

Congresswoman Susan Davis and Congressman Darrell Issa have urged constituents in their districts (which include much of East County) to contact their offices if they know of anyone in Afghanistan in need of help to evacuate.

Bombing casualties

Suicide bombers at the Hamid Karzai International Airport’s main gate in Kabul and at a nearby hotel have killed 13 U.S. soldiers and wounded 15, the Pentagon confirmed in a press conference today. Reuters reports that at least 60 Afghans are also dead from the attacks, for which a terrorist splinter group known as ISIS-K has claimed credit.

The U.S. had warned people to stay away from the airport before the attacks, citing credible threats of ISIS attacks. 


At the Pentagon briefing, Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of the U.S. Central Command, stated, “Let me be clear, while we’re saddened by the loss of life, both U.S. ad Afghan, we’re continuing to execute this mission,” he said of efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens, special immigrant visa (SIV) holders who helped U.S. forces, embassy staff, Afghans at risk from the Taliban, citizens of other countries, nonprofit workers and more.

In the past 10 days, since August 14, over 104,000 civilians have been evacuated, including 5,000 Americans. Over 7,000 were evacuated even after this morning’s attacks.

Despite today’s heavy casualties, the airlifts overall have succeeded in evacuating far more civilians than after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, when only around 8,000 were evacuated. General McKenzie estimates slightly over 1,000 U.S. civilians remain to be evacuated.

But threats remain.  General McKenzie warned of the potential for more suicide bombers or vehicle bombings as well as possible rocket attacks, though anti-rocket and mortar systems at the airport are in place to stop the latter, he added.

Biden vows retaliation against ISIS, orders flags flown at half mask to honor victims

President Joe Biden, in a White House press conference today, pledged to hold the terrorists responsible for today’s carnage and had this message for those who carried out the attacks or seek to harm America: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command…I’ve ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities,” he said.

For those still trying to evacuate before the August 31 troop pullout deadline, Biden stated, “We will rescue the Americans who are there. We will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on.” But he stopped short of clarifying how many Afghan allies remain or will be evacuated before the looming deadline.

Peppered by media questions, the President remained firm in his decision to pull troops out by August 31, an extension of the May deadline negotiated for U .S. pullout by former President Donald Trump, who freed 5,000 Taliban fighters including the current Taliban leader. Biden noted that America’s initial goal in the 20-year war was to kill bin Laden and halt al Qaeda, but that since then, despite four presidents’ keeping troops there, “Terrorism has metastasized around the world; we have greater threats coming out of other countries a heck of a lot closer to the United States.”

Biden, father of an Iraq War veteran, said he and First Lady Jill Bidens’ “hearts ache” for the families who lost loved ones. He ordered flags flown at half mast through August 30th at the White House, all public buildings in the U.S., at military bases, Naval ships, embassies and consulates worldwide.

Critics voice concerns

The President has drawn criticism from in Congress over the troop pullout and loss of lives in today’s attacks. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) issued a statement which claims, “Our enemies have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the withdrawal.” He called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call the House back into session before August 31, which he called “arbitrary” though the Taliban has rejected U.S. efforts to extend the deadline, raising the prospect of Taliban retaliation if troops remain longer.

New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik went further. “Joe Biden has blood on his hands,” she tweeted, calling the President “unfit to be Comamnder-in-Chief,” according to CNN.

Photo, right: Afghan child sleeps beneath cover provided by uniform of loadmaster aboard C-17 evacuation flight on August 15.

U.S. companies pitch in to help evacuees

At Biden’s request, several commercial airline companies have pledge 18 jetliners to carry evacuees to safe havens, though they will not land in Afghanistan, but rather in nearby countries.

AirBnB’s CEO Brian Chesky today announced that the company will house 20,000 Afghan refugees at its properties around the world, with willing property owners. Chesky indicated he will pay for their lodging, stating, “The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up.  I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same.”

Afghan refugees arrive in San Diego

Several local aid groups report that dozens of Afghan refugees with special immigrant visas (SIVs) have already begun arriving in San Diego, Times of San Diego reports, though many are only expected to stay here temporarily before moving on to destinations elsewhere in the U.S.

Local aid groups are asking for donations of funds, household goods, and rooms to house the refugees.  These include the International Rescue Committee of San Diego and  Jewish Family Services.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.



put your head back into tRumps butt you know nothing about what you write. which is almost all righties.

Still blaming Trump....SMH

I'm certain you'll go to your grave blaming Trump for the weather that day. Sad. Let's be honest, the real blame for the mess that was/is Afghanistan belongs to the Bush-Cheney regime. We should have been out of there promptly after kicking Al Qaeda's behind. Biden's team hasn't done anything right, it's a complete disaster and the administration is imploding despite being fully supported by the entire corporate media, big tech, academia, the establishment in both parties and 90% of the government bureaucracy. That and the only reporters he takes questions from have his picture hanging on their bedroom walls. Regarding the recent "ISIS-k" BS, the US Government knew so little about what was happening in Afghanistan that they had no idea the Afghan Security Forces would evaporate and the Taliban would immediately take over, but they were able to find within 24 hours the precise ISIS-K "planner" to kill? OK. Sure. What could he have done different? Off the top of my head...begin the exfiltration in Winter, not during fighting season. This was a partisan move to try and get him some props in getting it done prior to 9/11. Next, maintain intelligence & air power for the ANA forces, Evacuate Civilians, Charities, NGOs,USG, Evacuate vetted Afghans, Transport high value equipment, Disable heavy arms, Evacuate US military, Terminate Kabul Airport operations, Transfer Bagram - Lots of things could have and should have been done entirely different. Bragging about the airlift operation is a weak argument too. You don’t get to sink the ship and then brag about the number of lifeboats.


Joe Biden is unfit to lead this country. He’s an absolute disaster, and now he has the blood of 13 American servicemen on his hands along with all of you who voted him into office. This Afghanistan exit has turned into the biggest disaster of our lifetimes, brought on by the shear incompetence of the current administration. If this had happened during the previous administration, the Left would be calling for his head, the hypocrisy is stunning. Trying to shift blame to the previous administration is the tactic of a weak man, not a leader. America doesn’t need a teleprompter presidency right now, we need a leader, and Joe Biden is no leader. This, is what a leader sounds like, we need him now more than ever.

Oh ya, trump could have

Oh ya, trump could have stopped that suicide bomber before he got to checkpoint. He would have tweeted.. "hey suicide bomber... your FIRED!"

Nobody else involved? A 20

Nobody else involved? A 20 year war and you say that the pres that is ending it is to blame? Your fat orange hero is no longer on twitter get over it. We don't need links to his video shite. Just like the dems say the sky was falling because of trump, you say it is falling because of biden. lol

Kick rocks

Hey, Bernie Bro, getting out of Afghanistan wasn’t the point. Being capable of planning it without sacrificing the lives of 14 servicemen and servicewomen was. Not to mention the the billions in equipment and weapons we just armed the Taliban with. All of this just so Joe could put a feather in his cap and claim he got us out by the September 11 anniversary. Say what you want about Trump, but he’d have gotten us out of there without American lives being lost, and without arming the enemy. The other point being made here is that while this site claims to represent “all of East county” they continue to remain largely silent on all of the atrocities of the current administration. In contrast, the editor ran a daily smear campaign against the previous administration that was so partisan it was undeniable. Pull your head out and pay attention.

US disables hundreds of planes, vehicles in Afghanistan 

I also heard NPR report on this on radio a few minutes ago, though it's not yet on their website. They reported that the Taliban was unhappy to find that planes and other heavy equipment left behind by the US, at least near the airport, had been disabled so the Taliban cannot use it.  I'm not sure if this happened in other parts of the country, where there likely aren't any reporters left to report one way or the other.

8 East, your insults are not only hateful but untrue.  Reporting facts is not a "smear campaign" and we certainly DID report on the 170 killed at the Kabul airport including 13 US soldiers during the ISIS-K attack amid troop withdrawals on Biden's watch.  Incidentally our webmaster tells me your account is registered in Russia which makes it appear you may be a troll who doesn't have the US interests at heart, let alone East County.  We are soon going to be banning accounts originating in Russia which has become notorious for spreading disinformation and sowing division.

Actually the President who ordered an end to the war is Trump.

Biden might have cancelled that, but didn't.  So at worst he would share half the blame.  But Trump not only ordered the war to end during the next administration's time in office, he did not evacuate anyone during the months he had left in office. Why not?  His "peace" agreement with the Taliban included freeing 5,000 Taliban fighters including the new Taliban leader. Somehow I don't think any other President would have agreed to those terms. 

Biden's team did make public intelligence warnings of ISIS-k attacks and warned people to avoid the airport but desperate people came anyway and our soldiers trying to help them were among the casualties.  Could that have been prevented?  I don't know. Maybe.  Biden did retaliate swiftly by bombing and killing 2 ISIS-K leaders and other ISIS-K fighters, as well as today a truck full of explosives heading to the airport.

What Biden got right is probably the largest post-war evacuation airlifts in history that have gotten out ove 110,000 civilians so far. They probably can't get everyone out which is tragic. But short of cancelling Trump's order, which would have resulted in Taliban retaliations against our troops and probably even more casualties, with no civilian evacuations, what else could he have done?

Easy to throw stones, but much harder to fully examine all the facts and options, and the consequences of the alternatives.