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The fall of Kabul | this week on FOUR CORNERS

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The fall of Kabul: The last days of the war in Afghanistan.

“I don’t know what the Pashtun word for clusterf*ck is, but this is the most ridiculously outrageous screw up that I’ve ever experienced or even heard of.”  Strategic affairs analyst

In the baking Afghan summer sun, thousands of people made a desperate dash for the airport in Kabul. Their city was convulsed with fear after the country’s leadership fled, leaving the Taliban back in the Presidential Palace. It was an inglorious end to the 20-year war effort to rid the nation of the Taliban. 

“No one thought that it would be an absolute victory at this rapid scale like it was, it was lightning speed.” Kabul resident 

“Police officers took off their uniforms, ministers fled their ministries, immigration officers went home and then for a period we had total anarchy and lawlessness.”  Media owner

On Monday Four Corners takes you into the fall of Kabul.  In interviews and videos from those on the ground, the program captures the drama and the chaos of the last 16 days. 

“I’m not scared of dying, I really am not, but one thing that was on my mind the entire time was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to be caught alive.”  Afghan pop star and women’s rights advocate  

The airport became the scene of an unfolding nightmare with massive crowds flooding the terminal and runway, while others were locked out.

“We had rocks coming in from the crowd. The crowd were just building up. To hundreds, probably 500, 600 people. And you know, it started to get pretty dangerous. And the Marines were firing warning shots to keep the crowd away.”  Former Australian soldier and contractor 

Videos on social media showed the world the desperate lengths people were resorting to for a chance at freedom.

“Groups ofpeople that were there, they rushed into the planes…The pilots also ran away, they were scared, so we couldn’t take that plane that day.”  Afghan pop star and women’s rights advocate  

Stories emerged of Afghans, including a rising soccer star, losing their lives after clinging to the undercarriage of a plane.

“He called me and he said ‘I’m going to airport, maybe I can get on the plane and go to another country, where I can have a better future…’ That day Zaki died by falling off the airplane.”   Friend and teammate

Pictures posted online showed hundreds of people squeezed into a US rescue flight, underscoring the scale of the crisis.

“We just had to sit down, legs crossed, and as we took off.  The plane takes off pretty steeply and we just ended up in everyone’s lap… people were relieved, they were exhausted.”  Former Australian soldier & contractor 

Filmed around the world and on phones from secret locations, the program captures the stories of those who have escaped, and those who have been left behind.

“Afghan women are born warriors….I am a warrior. I’m going to fight my way through it, that’s all I know.”  Female educator


FOUR CORNERS: THE FALL OF KABUL, reported by Louise Milligan, goes to air on Monday 6 September at 8.30pm.

It is replayed on Tuesday 7th September at 1.00pm and Wednesday 8th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

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