Not much good came out of President Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan exit strategy, with 13 U.S. service members murdered and scores of innocent Afghan civilians hurt or killed after suicide bombings took place there last month days after Kabul fell to the Taliban.
But in the midst of all the chaos, a symbol of hope emerged, an infant girl who was literally hoisted to safety after being handed over to a Marine who proceeded to lift the baby over a barbed wire-topped wall.
You may remember the viral video, but for those who haven’t seen it, watch below:
A baby was handed over a wall at Kabul's airport to a U.S. Marine this week after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan's capital. A spokesperson for the Marine Corps said the child was taken to a medical treatment facility on site and has been reunited with their father. pic.twitter.com/e5KTBk3gSx
— News 6 WKMG (@news6wkmg) August 20, 2021
Today, via CBS News we learned more about the backstory behind the baby and her family and what happened to them in the days leading up to and after she was handed over to the Marines. The story is nothing short of amazing.
The baby’s name is Liya, and thanks to what her parents did – and U.S. Marines helping her – she’s now safe and 8 weeks old.
The father, named Hameed, told CBS News that he was an Afghan ally of the United States for some five years and that he had been at the Kabul airport for a month to help with evacuations. His wife Sadia had not long given birth when Kabul fell, and because Hameed had helped the U.S. he knew his family would be a target for the Taliban’s violence. That’s when Hameed and Sadia sprung into action:
On Aug. 19, his wife gathered their belongings, forms of identification, cash, and clothing and set off to the airport with her newborn. She would soon lose all of it, aside from her baby, at a checkpoint near the airport.
While the Taliban pledged cooperation during the evacuation process, the reality on the ground was very different. Sadia says they took all of their IDs, her gold, cash, and their passports. Sadia and Liya joined the chaotic crush of people trying to jam through a small opening in the gate at the airport.
Hameed could see them from the other side of the fence. “They were using water cannons and flashbangs to control the crowd. Every time a bang went off, I could see my daughter start screaming and crying. I couldn’t do anything to help,” Hameed remembers.
He feared his baby girl would be “crushed to death” or “severely injured” if they tried to get her through the security gate. So he asked a Marine to help lift her over the wall, telling him he’d rather risk his baby getting hurt by the barbed wire than be left to die in Afghanistan:
The Marine agreed. Hameed helped stabilize the Marine’s legs, which allowed him to lean over far enough to grab Liya by her right arm, and lift her over the barbed wire. That was the moment Hameed got to meet his newborn for the first time. He held her for two minutes, before returning to help with the evacuations. Sadia had collapsed from exhaustion, and he still had to figure out how to get her through the gate.
Hameed told CBS News that in handing his baby over to a “total stranger” that “the only thing I trusted is that he was a Marine, and that my daughter would be safe.”
His wife Sadia did finally make it past the gate, and the family were reunited a short time later on a plane, where they were evacuated.
He said when Liya grew up that he’d tell her “she’s a fighter.” Both Hameed and Sadia are considering making Liya’s middle name “Marine.”
Amazing quote from the father who handed his daughter to Marines in Kabul: "That day I handed over my baby to a total stranger, but the only thing I trusted was that he was a Marine, and my daughter will be fine." They got out and they're going to make her middle name "Marine." pic.twitter.com/BUfwA7VFDt
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) September 30, 2021
Because of their situation, they currently have no income and no health insurance with which to pay for doctor visits for Sadia and Liya. Hameed set up a GoFundMe to raise money.
Though the Liya rescue video went viral, there were several other instances of babies and children being lifted over and rescued by Marines, some of which we documented here.
May God bless and keep this family safe, secure, and happy in their new surroundings. And thank God for the Marines who helped save her.