Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Americans initially refused entry into US territory in Chicago

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Bryan Stern (center), co-founder of Project Dynamo, returned to Chicago on Thursday, September 30, 2021, with more than 100 people his organization rescued from Afghanistan. (Stan Bunner, Project Dynamo)

The group of more than 100 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who escaped Taliban-controlled Afghanistan this week with the help of a private rescue group arrived in Chicago on Thursday afternoon after a temporary blockade at Abu Dhabi airport.

The plane carrying 116 Afghan evacuees – mostly US passport and green card holders, as well as Afghans with special immigrant visas – landed in Chicago around 2 a.m. afternoon The rescue mission was led by Project Dynamo, one of dozens of civilian groups that have organized over the past two months to help rescue people from Afghanistan before and after the US military pulled out of the country.

Stan Bunner, an Army veteran and member of Project Dynamo, said some of the people they rescued live in the upper Midwest and will be heading home tonight. The others will spend the night in a Chicago hotel and begin their return journey on Friday. Bunner said Project Dynamo, which is funded by donors, pays their hotel and travel expenses.

The group left Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday after obtaining clearance from the Taliban. Project Dynamo executives believe this is the first private rescue flight to leave Kabul since the US military left the country on August 31.

They flew to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, hoping to board another chartered plane and then fly to New York. But when they arrived in Abu Dhabi, they learned that their charter plane was no longer cleared to land in the United States. the leaders said.

In emails to National exam The State Department and Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday they were checking the flight manifest and making sure all passengers were properly screened and vetted before flying to the US Bunner said the commercial flight the group flew on Thursday was paid for and provided by the US government.

“It was a pretty big change of mind,” he said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

Bunner said it won’t be Project Dynamo’s last rescue mission.

“I firmly believe that we are united with Dynamo, that we have now proven the concept and that we will replicate it,” he said. “As long as there are people who have to come out, we’ll find a way to do it.”

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Ryan Mills is a media reporter at National exam. Previously, he worked for 14 years as a breaking news reporter, investigative reporter and newspaper editor in Florida. Originally from Minnesota, Ryan lives in the Fort Myers area with his wife and two sons.

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