Before Islamist militants seized control of the country in August, Noor earned a living showing some of the world’s top travel bloggers around his homeland. One of them was American YouTuber, Drew Binsky.
In a video shared with his 2.77 million subscribers on September 9, a visibly relieved Drew revealed his friend is now safe in Melbourne with his wife and two young children thanks to the help of an Australian senator who secured their visas.
After fleeing with little more than the clothes on their backs, the family was among the lucky few to catch one of the final military evacuation flights from Hamid Karzai airport before an ISIS-K attack killed 13 US troops and at least 60 Afghan civilians on August 27.
‘It was like a miracle,’ Noor said.
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Before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August, Noor (left) earned a living showing some of the world’s top travel bloggers around his homeland. One of them was American YouTuber, Drew Binsky (right)
Taliban fighters are seen on the back of a vehicle in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after sweeping into the capital virtually unopposed and declaring the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the desk of ousted President Ashraf Ghani
After the Taliban captured their hometown of Mazar-i-Sharif, in the country’s north, Noor and his family holed up at a cousin’s house in Kabul as they anxiously awaited news of evacuation.
He said the usually bustling city was deserted save for Taliban gangs stalking the streets, trying to track down locals accused of helping Western forces during the Afghan War and subsequent 20-year intervention from the US, Britain, and Australia.
Chilling reports trickling out of Kabul at the time claimed extremist groups were marauding the capital hunting girls as young as 12 for sex slaves.
After failing to secure visas for India, Turkey or Pakistan, Noor was running out of options until he was contacted by a woman named Sharon through his Facebook page, Let’s Be Friends – Tourism in Afghanistan.
He said she petitioned an Australian senator on his behalf and within 24 hours, the family were granted entry visas.
Chaos descends on Kabul as thousands of Afghans rush to Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital on August 16, 2021
Noor said usually bustling Kabul was deserted save for Taliban gangs stalking the streets, trying to track down locals accused of helping Western forces during the Afghan War and subsequent 20-year intervention from the US, Britain, and Australia
Together with 11 others, Noor and his family raced to Kabul airport where they found ‘thousands and thousands of people’ scrambling to get inside the northern gate.
‘Everywhere was controlled by Taliban and there was shooting, when people were trying to rush they were just shooting,’ he said.
The chaotic scene was captured in a series of mobile phone videos, which show panicked crowds clambering over walls as gunshots ring out in the background.
Noor said he left his wife and kids in their car while he waited for almost 24 hours without food, before the terror group opened the gates and the crowd surged in.
In the wake of the stampede, he said he saw two bodies lying on the ground, surrounded by a sea of discarded passports and phones.
‘At this point I was asking God why is he doing this to our people,’ he recalled.
Noor (pictured in hotel quarantine in Melbourne) is now safe with his family in Australia, but others were not so lucky
Thousands of Afghans rushed onto the tarmac at the airport, three so desperate to escape the Taliban capture of their country that they held onto this US Air Force jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths
Noor said he spent at least 12 hours fighting his way through the crowd to speak to soldiers and delegates from the Australian embassy, only to be told he would need to go back and fetch his family and start the process all over again.
The family spent almost three days waiting at the airport before their documents were approved, giving them the green-light to board one of the last evacuation flights to Dubai, UAE, then on to Australia.
Noor said he was astounded by the speed of the Taliban takeover, which saw militant forces seize control of Afghanistan in little more than a week.
‘I was in shock, just totally in shock. It was unbelievable,’ he said.
Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal and their victory in the Afghan conflict on US in Afghanistan, in Alingar district of Laghman Province on March 2, 2020
His final shred of hope vanished when he learned President Ashraf Ghani had fled Kabul on August 14.
‘That was the moment I thought, okay, we need to get out of here,’ he said.
Drew, who calls Noor ‘one of the most sincere and down to Earth people’ he has ever met, said his decision to leave illustrated the gravity of the situation because he had always sworn he would never leave his country.
Before leaving, the brave tour guide even risked his life to check in on Zablon Simintov, an Afghan Jewish carpet trader and restaurateur who was widely known as the last Jew living in Afghanistan before his evacuation on September 7.
Noor’s harrowing account, which has been viewed 417,050 times since it was uploaded online on September 9, was quickly flooded with messages of support.
YouTuber Drew Binsky chats to Noor over Zoom after his escape from Afghanistan
‘Very happy Noor made it out alive!’ one man wrote, in a comment that has racked up 1,700 ‘likes’.
‘I got this notification and immediately felt relief, I know so many people are suffering but I remembered Noor and have been thinking about him,’ said a second.
Meanwhile a third added: ‘This guy is going to be in a TED talk soon. So much courage to start from scratch in a new country. Wish you and your family the best.’
Others begged Noor to launch his own YouTube channel to document his life in Australia.
Since his escape, violence has become a regular fixture across the Afghan capital.
On Sunday, a bomb which targeted the entrance of a mosque in Kabul on Sunday left a ‘number of civilians dead’, according to a Taliban spokesman.
Taliban fighters walk at the entrance of the Eidgah Mosque after the bombing, which cause little damage to the mosque but killed several civilians. Damage to the mosque gates and archway can be seen above
Taliban fighters were not harmed in the attack according to spokesman Bilal Karimi, who stated the casualties were civilians standing outside the mosque. Taliban guards are now stationed outside the mosque and emergency rooms
The bomb targeted the Eidgah mosque where a memorial service was being held for the mother of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahi and represents the first major attack of its kind in Afghanistan since the departure of US forces.
The Taliban said five people were killed and 10 injured, but medical sources put the death toll at 10 with over 30 injured, according to Al-Jazeera.
Taliban fighters were not harmed in the attack according to spokesman Bilal Karimi, who claimed the casualties were civilians standing outside the mosque.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate in Khorasan Province.
Attacks against the Taliban by IS militants have increased since the Taliban swept to power in mid-August.