Operation Recovery Testifies on Taliban Reprisals Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     

Operation Recovery Testifies on Taliban Reprisals Before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability

WASHINGTON, DC – January 31st, 2024 – Operation Recovery, alongside the 1208 Foundation, No One Left Behind, the Moral Compass Federation, Badger Six, Rafiq Friends of Afghanistan, and NATO Afghan Justice Sector Group, presented first-hand evidence of Taliban reprisals against the people of Afghanistan to the House of Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability. The Taliban have been indiscriminate in their reprisals since the 2021 U.S. evacuation, targeting women and girls, ethnic-religious groups, members of the Afghan special forces, and former government administrators and their families.

“Retaliation is happening to many close allies,” Elizabeth Lynn, former U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy veteran and government affairs director of Operation Recovery, told the Subcommittee. “The lack of safe, legal passage for these families is effectively a death sentence. It is also a stain on the conscience of many veterans, public servants, and citizens.”

In a written statement, Zac Lois, former U.S. Army special forces veteran and former operational director of Operation Recovery, described what he and others witnessed after the withdrawal of U.S. forces in August 2021. “I have seen countless beheadings, stonings, whippings, beatings, and executions of our former Afghan Special Operations allies at the hands of the Taliban. These retributions were not limited to only Afghan SOF veterans but also journalists, women’s rights leaders, former government officials, and employees, or anyone who spoke out against the Taliban. Many of these executions were used by the Taliban with the same weapons that the U.S. left behind.”

The organization, founded during the withdrawal, has continued assisting Afghan nationals with safe passage to the United States. To date, Operation Recovery has helped more than 4,000 Afghan allies, including men, women, and children, reach safety. The organization has also collected over 800 threat reports, of which 64 were presented to the Subcommittee with extensive photographic and video evidence.

In addition to the threat reports, Operation Recovery made several recommendations to the Subcommittee members, including changes to the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) to allow former members of Afghanistan’s elite forces to apply for U.S. citizenship alongside interpreters and Embassy staff. The organization also strongly recommended the United States provide moral injury support for U.S. veterans.

“The impact of the last twenty years, and the withdrawal, on our servicemen and women is significant. The ‘war’ may be over, but Afghanistan is going to continue to touch our military for a generation or more. Many veterans are dealing with devastating invisible wounds—moral injury—and have not seen much if any, response from any level of government,” stated Jon Collette, President of Operation Recovery. “This in and of itself is damaging to those who served. But now, these veterans have had to endure re-exposure to the atrocities committed; they have watched their friends and colleagues being beaten, pulverized, and executed. And our allies’ children are now watching their family members be subjected to these extremist tactics of violence and coercion. It is truly unprecedented.”


The Transcript/Recording of the roundtable can be found here:

  • https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hfac-announces-roundtable-on-taliban-reprisals/
  • https://youtu.be/lznK1DhShqg

Operation Recovery’s Opening Statement can be found here:

  • https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Elizabeth-Lynn-Taliban-Reprisals-Roundtable-Witness-Testimony-Excerpt.pdf
  • https://operationrecovery.org/opreco-hfac-opening-statement-elynn/


About Operation Recovery:

Operation Recovery is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting, sustaining, and enabling those connected to service, diplomacy, and humanitarian development, fostering lasting resilience and growth.


Elizabeth Lynn, Director of Government Affairs, [email protected]