'We share a grief' - the Afghan student living in the US as the nation remembers 9/11

ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy went to Ground Zero with Fawad, who she first met in Kabul a decade ago


Ten years ago, filming in Kabul, I met an incredible little boy selling maps in the street. From the age of six, Fawad Mohammadi had been eking out a living to help support his family.

He spoke a lot of languages a little bit, keen to engage with would-be customers. He spoke brilliant English, having been sponsored in school by one of the many customers who took him to their hearts.

He was determined that one day he would finish school, go to university and be able to really provide for his family. He was living in constant danger but he fizzed with hope.

We stayed in touch and this year he moved to America. The little boy from Chicken Street had earned a scholarship to university in Ohio. Friends and strangers raised thousands to make his dream a reality.

Emma Murphy with Fawad ten years ago.

Fawad worked to get there and worked to pay for it. It has been an amazing adventure. He was the only Afghan in the college and swapped Kabul’s conservatism for classes on gender, sexuality and feminism.

He explained to American friends what America’s war did to his country. He looked forward to going home.

And then America’s war ended. In reality it had been over for years but the presence of a few thousand troops kept things steady.

With their departure, came the panicked phone calls from friends and family. Could he get them out? Could they come to him? Could he help?


'I am dying day by day'

The boy who had provided for his family since the age of five could not do anything to help.

The Fawad I have just met in New York still smiles the smile that captivated so many in Kabul but he lacks the hope he once had.

It is replaced by fear for those back home and the country they are trying to flee. He cannot bear to hear the Taliban saying they will forgive people like him, people who are not loyal to their cause.


'They are coming and saying they are forgiving us? That's a joke'

Over and over he wrestles with the same question: “How can they say they forgive us? We did nothing wrong. They killed us, the tortured us, they destroyed our country. They are the ones who should be seeking forgiveness.”

As Kabul fell he was doing his end of term exams in Ohio.

Somehow he passed with top marks.

Others have suffered more in this 20-year war but I wish the little boy whose young life was dominated by it could, in adult life, at least enjoy the success he earned despite it.