WASHINGTON, D.C. — FOX23 spoke one-on-one with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) about his attempt to fly into Afghanistan which he said was meant to help evacuate Americans and Afghan allies.
“I knew I could be valuable to the team and we wanted to help,” said Mullin.
It was that very reason that the Congressman said he made the decision to hop on a flight alongside a team of retired military members and non-profit groups to try to get to Afghanistan.
“I had the privilege of working with a great team,” said Mullin. “I was the low man on this totem pole. The group we were with, they do this all over the world.”
His office had learned about a mother of three named Mariam in need of help.
Mullin said Mariam is a U.S. citizen from Texas and was stuck in Taliban-controlled Kabul with her kids.
“She has ties to Oklahoma and she actually has ties to our National Guard here and that’s how this came about,” said Mullin.
Mullin said the plan was to be on the ground in Afghanistan for 36 hours but they weren’t allowed to land.
So, the plan changed and he said they were redirected to other countries where they worked to organize evacuation efforts.
“We were working mainly out of the country Georgia,” said Mullin. “We got to help organize, receiving some refugees.”
FOX23 Washington Correspondent Samantha Manning asked Mullin how the trip was funded.
“I was paying for my way and let me tell you, everybody else that was working in this organization, no one was getting paid,” said Mullin. “But the main funding was coming through non-profit organizations.”
Mullin’s trip came after two other Members of Congress, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) made unauthorized trips to Kabul last month.
The State Department issued a warning saying that Americans should not travel to Afghanistan and House leadership from both parties told Members not to travel there either.
“Any Member that I’ve heard from that might go, I explained to them that I don’t think they should,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Aug. 25. “I think it creates a greater risk.”
Manning asked Mullin in light of these warnings, “why did you decide to go anyway?”
“‘Cause I knew we could be an asset,” said Mullin. “How do you say no? How do you say no when you know there’s a problem there and you have the ability to fix it or do something about it?”
Mullin said the team he worked with has been able to facilitate the evacuation of around 200 people so far and said the team is still there helping people.
As for Mariam, Mullin said she is now in Dubai and they are working to help get her to the United States.
Mullin did not disclose the names of the non-profit groups he worked with while overseas.
“As much as [the Biden administration] has failed in this effort and have literally left Americans behind, it’s phenomenal to me that I can say the private industry and the individuals from volunteering their time and volunteering their resources were willing to step up,” said Mullin.
“Are you actively planning to go again at this point?” Manning asked.
“No, I’m not actively doing that but even if I was, I wouldn’t discuss it,” said Mullin. “I most definitely wouldn’t want to be a distraction. If we’re going to do it, we’d do it just like we did last time. Completely quiet.”
Mullin refuted reports that he made another attempt to go to Afghanistan by traveling through Greece and said this trip where he worked mainly from Georgia was the only time he tried to go Afghanistan.
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