(405) 425-5070
"We did an extensive renovation on this 1920 building," retired Lt. Gen. John Bradley says. "I love this photo. Look at the photo. The boys want to be noticed. The girls are going in to get an education."  
Top Stories
Photo provided by retired Lt. Gen. John Bradley

Kabul airport attack strands Afghan contacts of Christian humanitarians

As many as 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members reported dead in suicide bombing.

One of the families at the gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday had gone there with papers John and Jan Bradley helped them acquire and a letter the retired Air Force general had written for them.  

As of late Thursday afternoon, the news from Afghanistan was not good. And not clear.

“They were at the gate where the explosion took place today,” John Bradley said. “The 14-year-old son, in an early report, had said, ‘I saw my mother and father on the ground — they are dead.’

Related: As Afghan government collapses, Christians work to help volunteers leave

“But we found out this afternoon they are not dead,” the retired general added. “We don’t know about injuries, don’t even know where they are, but the mother and father are together. The 11- and 6-year-old are missing. The 14-year-old is still near the gate and wants to get inside.”

Bradley talked to The Christian Chronicle after a suicide bombing ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility, killing at many as 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. 

The family were the parents and siblings of a young Afghan woman in Alexandria, Va., who has become a close friend of Jan Bradley. Since retiring, the couple has lived in Lebanon, Tenn., where they are members of the College Hills Church of Christ.

“We sent in paperwork to have them evacuated — gave them a copy that went to the joint staff in the Pentagon that’s overseeing this for the Department of Defense — and tried to help them get approved,” John Bradley said. “They decided to go to the gate, with papers and a letter I had written, when the explosion happened.”

The Bradleys are heartbroken, particularly Jan and the couple’s daughter Leigh Ann Kosmas, who had taken time off as communications director for a Minneapolis law firm to help her parents complete the paperwork for Afghans seeking to flee. 

“Leigh Ann and Jan were just in tears — it’s just devastating.”

“Leigh Ann and Jan were just in tears — it’s just devastating,” the father and husband said.

John Bradley tried to be more circumspect. ISIS or the Taliban did this, he told them.

“We did what they wanted us to do — they begged us for help to get out — we don’t need to feel guilt ourselves for this,” Bradley said. “We have to look at it from that point of view. At least that’s what I’m trying.”

President Joe Biden said in a press conference later in the afternoon that the Pentagon has blamed the attacks on ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State.

The Bradleys at least know something about the family at the gate Thursday. And they know of one other group of 10 family members, relatives of a Houston physician they know well, who got out earlier this week with their help. 

But the founders of the Lamia Afghan Foundation, a humanitarian foundation that has provided more than 3.5 million pounds of aid over the past decade, initially hoped to get out about 50 volunteers and family members who had supported their work building schools and clinics, and whose lives are now in danger because of it. That quickly grew to 100, then 500, as others contacted them with names of Afghan friends desperate to flee. 

The foundation’s country director and his family, part of the original 50, were at the airport gate for hours Wednesday with papers, even after two different people had told Bradley their names were on the approved list. 

“He was told to go and someone would meet him, and that person didn’t show,” Bradley said.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Bradley and his wife, Jan, in Kabul at an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp where they started a school.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Bradley and his wife, Jan, in Kabul at an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp where they started a school.

The applications the Bradleys have helped file must include a photo of the person in the clothing they will wear when they present themselves. Some have been submitted through the State Department, “ but no one has ever heard anything from that paperwork,” he said.

They have also completed paperwork for the joint chiefs’ staff at the Pentagon, working on the non-combatant evacuation order, referred to in the military as an NEO.

“We thought at a certain time they’d say have ‘X’ family go to a certain gate, but we’ve not had any calls to do that,” Bradley said.

And he’s not optimistic going forward, especially after the deaths today: “I think that with the explosion today, I believe President Biden doesn’t want to extend the Aug. 31 deadline. With these deaths … I think Biden has said a number of times, ‘How many more sons and daughters?’”

“I think they’ll be really careful about trying to get people through there — and may decide it’s not worth the risk to keep going. That’s a guess.”

As the deadline draws nearer, the military will require at least the last few days to get the military out, Bradley said.  The president did, however, say he had asked military leaders for a plan for retaliation.

Air Force generals are not in the business of guessing. But Bradley is quick to say, “I’m not in the Air Force anymore.”

“I think they’ll be really careful about trying to get people through there — and may decide it’s not worth the risk to keep going. That’s a guess.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect a Pentagon statement on Friday indicating that there was one suicide bombing Thursday, not two as initially reported by defense officials.

Coming next week

Kabul, Afghanistan

Watch a Christian Chronicle live interview of John and Jan Bradley at 11 a.m. Central/noon Eastern next Wednesday, Sept. 1. The interview by correspondent Cheryl Mann Bacon and editor-in-chief Bobby Ross Jr. will be broadcast on the Chronicle’s Facebook page and uploaded later to the newspaper’s YouTube channel.

Filed under: Afghanistan International Jan Bradley John Bradley Kabul attacks Lamia Afghan Foundation Lt. Gen. John Bradley National News refugees Tennessee Top Stories war

Don’t miss out on more stories like this.

Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

Did you enjoy this article?

Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.

Personal Info

Dedicate this Donation

In Honor/Memory of Details

Card Notification Details

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Donation Total: $3 One Time