The girl, now three years old, lost her parents and five siblings in a classified US-led military operation on 6 September 2019. She was seven months old at the time.
The child’s extended family is suing the US marine and his wife in a federal court, alleging that the girl was forcibly taken once she arrived in the US in September 2021.
The complaint, filed on 2 September at the Virginia District Court, states that US Marine Joshua Mast and his wife Stephanie Mast convinced the child’s legal guardians to bring her to the US where they would assist with her injuries – a fractured skull and femur and second-degree burns – sustained during the operation.
Court documents say that as soon as her legal guardians arrived in the US, they met with a social worker who took the child from them.
“We call on the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the US Marine Corps to immediately investigate the methods that Joshua Mast used to kidnap this child and to intervene in the ongoing court case to bring forth justice and reunite her with her family,” Halema Wali, the co-founder of Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, told Middle East Eye.
“Afghans do not need white saviours who disguise human trafficking as humanitarianism in the name of Christianity,” Wali added.
The Masts reject the idea that they deceived the family and took the baby from them, saying in a response to the lawsuit that the Mast’s informed them of “Mast’s relationship and legal responsibility for the child,” Richard Mast wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“The sole legal identity created for Baby Doe saved not only her from the evils of life under the Taliban – it saved numerous others – including Plaintiffs John and Jane Doe. The fact that the Does are here in America today is a result of the countless hours invested by these Americans at no charge to the Does,” Richard Mast wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, he stated.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan released a statement in which it called the case worrying, adding it was “far from human dignity and an inhumane act”.
The lawyer representing the Afghan family declined to comment about the case and the identity of the plaintiffs, citing safety as the reason for maintaining anonymity.
According to the filing, Joshua Mast, working through his attorney and brother Richard Mast, had already obtained a custody order for the baby despite the child having Afghan citizenship as well as legal guardians in her home country.
The complainants also named Richard Mast; and Kimberley Motley, an American lawyer who has been working in Afghanistan for more than a decade; as well as Ahmad Osmani, a Baptist pastor who acted as a translator between the families; as co-conspirators in the lawsuit.
Motley and Osmani were reportedly involved in wrangling with the family to convince it to bring the baby to the US.
The US military launched the military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in what it dubbed a war to annihilate the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates.
However, after the military adventure that lasted 20 years, the US-led allied forces last year beat the hasty and humiliating retreat from the war-ravaged country, allowing the Taliban to stage a dramatic comeback.