An Afghan couple who arrived in the United States as refugees have sued a Marine and his wife for allegedly kidnapping their baby.
Amid the chaos, the newlyweds are rescued from Kabul and taken to Washington by Marine Joshua Master U.S. troops withdraw last year.
Two years ago, the baby girl was rescued from the rubble of a U.S. Special Forces raid that killed her parents and five siblings, and after spending several months in a U.S. military hospital with the couple— — her cousin and his wife — live together.
When they arrived in the U.S. in late August 2021, Mr. Master pulled them from the international arrivals line and brought them before a prosecutor, according to their lawsuit filed last month.
The couple said they were surprised when Master presented the child with an Afghan passport, noting that her last name had been changed to Master.
Unbeknownst to the family, the Marines and his wife Stephanie adopted the child in a Virginia courthouse 7,000 miles away, according to court filings.
The couple said Mr Master picked up the child from the couple five days after they arrived in the U.S., after waving custody papers. Since then, they have never seen the young man again.
“Our tears never stopped after they took her away,” the Afghan woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Associated Press.
“Right now, we’re just a corpse. Our hearts are broken. Without her, we have no plans for the future. Food has no taste and sleep keeps us from resting.”
‘Our performance was admirable’
In a federal lawsuit filed in September, the Afghan family charged Mast with false imprisonment, conspiracy, fraud and assault.
Mr Master claimed he and his wife were the legal parents of the three-and-a-half-year-old girl and they had “acted admirably” to save her.
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“Joshua and Stephanie Master have done nothing but make sure she gets the medical care she needs, at great personal cost and sacrifice, and provide her with a loving home,” Master lawyer wrote.
Mast also called the Afghan family’s claims a “heinous and unprovoked attack” on its integrity, arguing in court documents that they had been working to “protect children from physical, mental or emotional harm” .
They have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
The ordeal has drawn attention from multiple U.S. government departments, who believe the alleged incident could severely damage military and diplomatic relations.