Brits in Afghanistan fear for families' lives as Taliban threaten to 'cut off children's heads'

A British citizen is in hiding in Kabul, unable to get out and targeted by the Taliban because he is former interpreter, ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia reports

It has been more than a month since flights stopped from Kabul airport following desperate scenes as people scrambled to leave before western troops pulled out, and two months since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

ITV News can reveal the scale, and the terrifying situation, of those Britons still stuck in Afghanistan.

One British national told ITV News he is still stuck in Kabul.

The man, who grew up in the UK, is at risk, not just as a former British interpreter but also as a Panjshiri, a minority targeted by Taliban.

Trapped in a small space with his wife and seven small children, they live in constant fear having been threatened by Taliban. Three of his relatives, including his 23-year-old cousin who was studying economics at Kabul University, have been killed since the extremists took power. He thinks he will be next.

"Being a British national has its down sides right now in Afghanistan, but being a British national with a Panjshiri heritage and family background has an even better appeal for the Taliban to either kill or kidnap me," he says.

People with British passports were seen waving them in desperate scenes as they tried to leave Kabul in August. Credit: ITV News

He continues: "As the situation worsens with the failure of the western world to keep a grip on Afghanistan, more and more every day the Taliban are coming and sniffing out whatever they feel is rightfully theirs, or reprisals from their previous encounter twenty years ago."

Shortly before ITV News spoke to him, his brother-in-law had been taken away by Taliban in front of his kids and wife.

The extremists threatened his wife as they left. "They said, 'if you say anything to anybody, make sure that your family knows that we've taken your brother. If you speak about this, we will come back, cut off your kids' heads and then your head off'.' 

He is stuck in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare. He was offered an evacuation flight but his wife and children, who are not British passport holders, were not eligible to come with him without a visa. His family can only get a visa from the British consulate - and there is no longer a British consulate in Afghanistan.

"It's a situation... no father will make that decision and no husband will make that decision," he says.

"I can't leave them there in a war torn country where the Taliban are looking for me and they've already taken my brother-in-law... It's impossible for me to leave my wife and my kids, seven children, and the oldest is seven and the youngest is nearly three and a half months for them, for me to leave them behind."

"You could have saved 20, 30 lives" - a British-Afghan who fled the Taliban said the foreign office's lack of communication meant the aeroplane he flew out of Kabul on had dozens of empty seats

One man who was lucky enough to get out of Afghanistan, but forced to leave his wife - whose brother and father had been killed by Taliban - behind in Kabul, tells ITV News he flew out on a plane which had dozens of empty seats, and is angry at the government.

"I saw so many empty seats, so imagine they could at least take another 30 Brits, imagine you could save 30 lives, or 20 lives, but there's no communication," he tells ITV News.

He said while it was a "relief" to get on the flight, he says he felt "guilty and a bit selfish" for leaving behind his wife despite his life being at risk if he stayed. He now says he regrets leaving her, and says he will go out and get her, despite the risks.

Hundreds of Afghans who worked with the UK have been left stranded in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan after evacuations ended on August 28. Credit: PA

The plumber said the UK government were treating British-Afghans "like second class British (citizens)".

"The British government handled the crisis extremely poorly," he claims.

A London woman, with four small children, including newborn twins, is petrified for her British husband who went out to Afghanistan to help save his mum and sister. He got stuck himself after the Taliban's swift takeover and has not been able to return.

"I need my husband, and my husband needs his family," she tells ITV News.

"I don't understand why they can't help him," she says of the British government.

"I just want the British government, please don't make it longer, because there is no hope for life back in Afghanistan.

"Everyday they are killing people" - the wife of a man stuck in Afghanistan says the risk to her husband's life grows with each passing day

"And by passing everyday, I get so much more worried, because the danger is getting worse and worse since Taliban came to Afghanistan... everyday they are killing people, everyday... but at least my husband is a British citizen, so they should help him."

An FCDO spokesperson said: “We will continue to do all we can to secure safe passage to enable British nationals and eligible Afghans to leave the country.” 

A member of the UK Armed Forces fist-bumping a child evacuee at Kabul airport Credit: Ben Shread/MoD/PA

The UK pulled out its remaining troops and diplomatic personnel on August 28, while US forces finally withdrew from Afghanistan three days later, a day ahead of the deadline set by President Joe Biden, bringing to an end a deployment which began in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks two decades ago.

The end of the Western military presence also concluded the airborne evacuation effort from Kabul, leaving Afghans wanting to escape the Taliban facing an uncertain future.

At the time, Boris Johnson said he felt "a great sense of regret" that not everybody eligible will be evacuated out of Afghanistan before the August 31 withdrawal deadline set by the Americans.