ONTARIO — As U.S. President Joe Biden completed a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in August, efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens from the country have been reported as “messy” by some news outlets. According to Ontario newlywed Angela Flying Eagle, her husband is among those who have yet to escape Afghanistan.
“He’s an Afghanistan citizen, he worked with a translator undercover; he is not on any government papers,” said Flying Eagle in a phone interview Tuesday. “He warned the Americans of where the Taliban was and he warned the translator. He’s one of [the hundreds of people] that was left behind on Aug. 31, and he’s definitely in danger.”
Flying Eagle did not disclose her husband’s identity out of an abundance of caution, but did say that he speaks seven languages, is capable of teaching three university-level classes and that they have wed legally … twice.
“We met via the internet; He was my Quran teacher about two years ago, and after about a year we had our relationship going well,” she said, stating they first had to commit to a religious Nikah — a ceremony between a bride and a groom prescribed in Islam, then be married civilly.
“That’s the difference between Islam and the laws of the land, is they don’t recognize internet Nikahs … You’ve gotta go before a judge thing, or you’re not legally married, that type of thing. Where in Islam, you can do a Nikah.”
She noted because they have been married through a Nikah in Pakistan, their marriage was already valid there. Still, the couple aimed to have a civil wedding in the U.S., before the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
“I [returned to the U.S.] the 23rd of July, and then all of a sudden the hubbub.”
As a result, her husband’s U.S. Visa application is on hold until next May.
“That’s a little bit late for him … He needs to get out of there, he’s at risk.”
Efforts to save her husband have not come cheap. Flying Eagle says she has spent thousands of dollars to obtain documents deemed necessary by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, including her birth certificate.
“Right now, what they’re requesting of me … is documents clear back 50 and 71 years ago, that will take up to 12 weeks to get, before they will do his case, which they’ve been holding for weeks now, not telling me they wanted these.”
One document that is a sticking point for Flying Eagle is proof of her two previous marriages, even with her divorce certificate already submitted to the program.
“It’s logical thinking that if you got divorced, you were married! They’re not using logic, it’s totally ridiculous demanding documents that should not even have anything to do with saving my husband’s life!”
Flying Eagle was also a refugee at one point of her life, being held hostage by a radical group in Scotland for a year upon taking a trip there. The incident left her with post-traumantic stress disorder.
“They left me on the streets for three months once I escaped,” she said.
According to Flying Eagle, the program does not reimburse her any costs, and the related expenses have dried up her savings.
“I’m 71 years old, I get my Social Security. He’s not going to be getting any benefits from anybody,” she added. “His honor code will not allow it, either. So, he would not be a burden on anyone.”
Flying Eagle said she has had lawyers and elected officials, including Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo helping her out, as she also is a part-time resident of Idaho. But even they have not been able to break her husband free so far.
“I’m not getting any answers. I am publicly demanding that I get answers, and I want [them] in writing,” she said.
Another concern Flying Eagle had was hearing that U.S. officials provided the Taliban with names of Americans and Afghan allies left behind. This was confirmed in an article by Politico on Aug. 26, stating that a list of individuals the White House intended “to evacuate.”
The Politico article reads, in part, “The move, detailed to POLITICO by three U.S. and congressional officials, was designed to expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan as chaos erupted in Afghanistan’s capital city last week after the Taliban seized control of the country.”
“If that is true, I am really p----- at Biden,” she said.
One factor Flying Eagle cites as a potential hindrance to her efforts is the age gap between her and her husband.
“We may have too many years between us [in age] and that could get him denied his safety over here,” she said. “That should not enter into this at all. In Islam, they pay no mind to the calendar. They pay mind to the fact of love and compatibility. They don’t care if you’ve got two days’ difference or 80 years’ difference. It’s a different culture.”
According to Flying Eagle, Islamic cultures often see it an honor for a man to marry a divorced or widowed woman.
Flying Eagle said her hope in sharing her story is to bring light to the gravity of this situation.
“He’s an everyday country boy-type person, like we would be … I’m an everyday country gal. That’s the way he is,” she said. “The Taliban is his main concern, they would love to kill him and his family. Meaning his mother, his sister and two brothers.”
In the meantime, the couple remains in contact by telephone and internet for now.