Afghanistan journalist escapes Taliban with help of Americans, Ukraine

I’m USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you’d like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week, sign up here. 

None of us slept the night of Aug. 19. 

There were four USA TODAY editors and a reporter on a WhatsApp chat with Afghan journalist Fatema Hosseini, U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Alex Cornell du Houx and Ukrainian military commander Iryna Andrukh.

Alex, in Washington, D.C., was guiding Fatema through the Taliban gantlet at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan – a crush of people, gunfire and tear gas. Iryna, in Kyiv, Ukraine, was directing a special forces soldier in the military portion of the airport who was trying to find her. 

Afghan journalist Fatema Hosseini is greeted by USA TODAY Editor in Chief Nicole Carroll and publisher Maribel Wadsworth at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul.

The rest of us were watching it play out text by text, feeling completely helpless – and completely responsible. Fatema, 27, had put her trust in our judgment, her life in our hands. 

Her first text that day came at 12:54 a.m. ET. “Am near airport”

Full story: Staying could mean death. The escape nearly killed her. How one woman fled Afghanistan for freedom.

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