Former British soldier Ben Slater was detained on Thursday, September 2, by the Taliban while he was trying to deliver hundreds of Afghan refugees to a third country through the border.
Slater, a 37-year-old ex-soldier in the Royal Military Police and CEO of Nomad Concepts Group, an Afghanistan-based consultancy, was among those stranded as the Western rescue missions wrapped up on the austere deadline, according to The Independent which reported from the Telegraph.
The Foreign Office had failed to issue visas for him and his women-majority staff to fly out of Kabul airport. Undeterred, he initiated an operation to transport them, including their families, out of the nation via the border.
A paid coach assisted him and 400 other refugees to an unidentified land border, where they stayed confined in a hotel near the checkpoint for two days.
The Taliban arrested the British veteran on Thursday morning. He was imprisoned and questioned about his staff, mostly single women who were staying alone in hotel rooms. They released Slater later in the day.
The militant group still agreed to let him cross the border, and he could only leave with one assistant, no more. His staff and their families were not allowed to accompany him.
The Independent noted those forced to remain in Afghanistan did not have U.K. visas, nor had they been granted passage to a third country.
“The final blow to the op is that the UK are only granting myself and one of my executive assistants over the border today, and they haven’t even suggested they are going to issue the visas for some or the rest of my group,” he told The Telegraph.
“It’s a complete disaster really. It’s disgusting. It’s beyond horrible,” said a disappointed Slater, who had served a decade with the Royal Military Police.
Slater likewise, refused to give up on the refugees who remained stuck.
According to the Independent, he had vowed to get them the visas out of Afghanistan, whether from the U.K. or another western country, begging with the foreign office to act on their behalf.
Before the Thursday altercation, according to Sky News, Slater and his hundreds of refugee companions had been stuck at the border since officials were still in the process of negotiations with third countries.
“The situation we are in now is all the work has been done, we are at a third country point now and we are desperately trying to get the doors open,” he said. “We are waiting for a decision from the powers that be, ie the UK government right now.”
While the Taliban had promised to respect women and children’s rights this time, the Independent noted they still required women to have male relative escorts on long trips.
Ms. Adams-Richardson, a former member of the British Army, expressed concern about Slater’s mission to rescue the group of hundreds of refugees, particularly his travels with women, because of his standing as a westerner and a guy under the Taliban’s ruling.
But she said, “But that’s Ben all over—he’s a humanitarian.”