Sohail Ahmadi, an Afghan baby who went missing during the chaotic evacuation of the country by U.S. forces in August, was reunited with his family this week, according to a report by Reuters.
But Sohail was later found alone, abandoned by the soldier. His family was eventually evacuated to the United States, but they didn’t know what happened to the infant.
The man who found him, a 29-year-old taxi driver, was forced this week by Taliban authorities to give the child back to his relatives who are still living in Kabul. Those relatives said they plan to have the child moved to America, where he can be reunited with his parents.
Sohail Ahmadi Lost in U.S. Evacuation
According to the report, baby Sohail and his family were desperately trying to escape Afghanistan on Aug. 19, when his parents handed him over an airport wall to a U.S. soldier.
His father, Mirza Ali Ahmadi, later told reporters that he feared the child would be crushed by the crowd, which was pushing up against the barrier in hopes of fleeing the war torn country — but he expected to be reunited with his son in a few minutes when he got inside the airport.
“Just at that moment, Taliban forces pushed the crowd back and it would be another half an hour before Ahmadi, his wife and their four other children were able to get inside,” Reuters wrote.
By the time they were allowed entry, Sohail was nowhere to be found. Though his family searched desperately, U.S. officials told them the infant was most likely already evacuated in the chaos, and that they could reunite with him when they arrived in America.
Mirza Ali Ahmadi and the rest of Sohail’s family was resettled in the United States, but in the months since, they had no idea where their youngest son had ended up. Since then, U.S. officials have reportedly aided in the search.
“The case of this missing baby was brought to the U.S. government’s attention back in October, more than two months after the child went reportedly missing,” a federal caseworker told the Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity.
“After a few weeks of communicating between agencies, government officials grew frustrated when their searches led to dead ends. However, a few remained close to the search until present.”
Missing Afghan Baby Found in Kabul
That same day, Aug. 19 — likely when the Ahmadis were still outside in the crowd — a 29-year-old Kabul taxi driver named Hamid Safi found Sohail alone in the airport. Neighbors reportedly noted that he came home that day with a baby.
Safi said that he intended to raise the child himself. Sohail’s grandfather and a couple other relatives still living in the country traveled to Kabul with gifts, hoping to exchange them for custody of the infant, but Safi wouldn’t budge.
But after the Taliban government intervened (and after Safi was briefly arrested), Sohail was reunited with his extended family in Kabul.
Now, Sohail’s grandfather says he’s working to get the infant back in his parents’ custody in the United States.
“I’m so grateful for the media who helped us to reach and receive this child,” said the grandfather, Mohammed Qasem Rezawi.
“I love this child a lot,” said Safi’s wife, Farima. “But we cannot be his mother and father. He has to live with his parents.”