- A social media star has raised over $7.2 Million to evacuate Afghans during the Taliban takeover.
- According to the Washington Post, Operation Flyaway did not evacuate any Afghans.
- The Post discovered that almost half of the campaign’s money was spent on cancelling flights.
A social media influencer who raised more than $7.2 million for people in Afghanistan During the Taliban’s takeoverA Thursday investigation by the Associated Press revealed that nearly half of the money was spent on cancelling flights, and $2 million was given to a company owned by a man suspected of fraud. The Washington Post.
The outlet discovered that no Afghans were evacuated from flights chartered by the airline. “Operation Flyaway,”An Instagram meme page promoted a purported charity campaign for Afghanistan to rescue people. “Quentin Quarantino,”The site has over 820,000 followers, and Tommy Marcus, 26, runs it.
According to The Washington Post which reviewed the situation, $3.3 million was spent on flights that were eventually cancelled and for which no refunds have been received. “financial records, emails, text messages, recordings of calls and interviews.”
Since the Mid-August saw the Taliban take over Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.The chaos at the airport was evident as people tried to flee but couldn’t get their flights. On Sunday, however, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign AffairsAnnounced that the airport was “fully operational”We promised complete communication with airlines again, Reuters reported.
“Operation Flyaway”According to the report, 51 people were evacuated from Afghanistan by Sayara International after they donated $545,000 to global consulting firm Sayara International. The two organizations had agreed to provide 200 seats for the campaign’s evacuees. However, some were unable to get to the airport. An anonymous source said to The Post. Insider was confirmed this by a representative of Sayara International.
Since then, “Operation Flyaway”According to the Post, it has been involved in at least two rescue missions. According to the Post, the campaign claimed that it provided transportation and other assistance that enabled 57 people to board a flight that left Afghanistan on September 17. Post also received similar support from 27 people in exchange for assistance on a Sayara International flight leaving the country a few more days later. Operation Flyaway helped save at least 135 people.
—IG: @quentin.quarantino (@quentquarantino) August 17, 2021
The campaign Announced on August 17, 2009 in a “Quentin Quarantino”Instagram post, raised millions of dollars to support the Afghan evacuation efforts through a GoFundMe fundraiser. The fundraiser is no longer accepting donations as of Thursday afternoon; the last donation was more than a month ago.
According to GoFundMe, the mission was to evacuate. “high-value targets,”Particularly Afghans “who have worked as human rights lawyers, champions of Women’s and LGBTQ rights, journalists, government liaisons, artists, and interpreters”Taliban threat to their lives. The page stated that every $1,500 raised would pay for one seat in a Kabul-bound plane.
Raven Advisory, a security company and intelligence firm based in Fayetteville (North Carolina), also stated that the fundraiser would pay for and distribute the money. The company did not respond to a request to comment. According to the Post Raven Advisory was the specific entity involved in making deals and planning to evacuate people.
According to reports, the operation gave millions of dollars to a company owned by a suspect in fraud
The Post stated that invoices found by them contained information that was not available elsewhere. “Operation Flyaway”The $2.8m donation was made to Kiwijet by the airline company to purchase four 280-seat planes. According to the report, the CEO of Kiwijet was previously under investigation for fraud suspicions and had been fined multiple times by the Federal Aviation Administration. Raven Advisory CEO Sheffield Ford told the Post that he wasn’t concerned about Steele’s past because Kiwijet was recommended by a trusted source.
The Post reported that Nicolas Steele, the chief executive of Kiwijet, filed a search warrant application in Los Angeles Federal Court on July 20, 2020.
Insider discovered a 2020 lawsuitIt names Steele as a defendant along with Kiwijet, but Kiwijet did not respond.
2019 will be the year of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), proposed $533,320 civil penaltiesSteele Aviation, one of Steele’s companies, was accused for conducting unauthorized flights with inexperienced Pilots. The statement came shortly after.Two identical FAA PenaltiesFor allegedly flying illegally in 2018,
According to The Post, Steele Aviation was fined $1.3 million by the FAA and Steele’s pilot certificate was revoked twice between 2017-2019.
The Post claimed that Eric Bensamochan was Steele’s attorney. Bensamochan, despite all the confusion caused by the cancellation of planes, told the Post that Kiwijet flights purchased by “Operation Flyaway”They are available to depart and waiting for approval by the campaign.
Ford, Bensamochan and Marcus did not respond to our requests for comment.
You can read more stories by Insider’s Digital Culture Desk.