Search for missing Afghan refugee, 3, who vanished from a Texas playground is called off

Search for missing Afghan refugee, 3, who vanished from a Texas playground is called off

The search for a little Afghan refugee who went from a Texas playground while her mother was abroad in December has been put on hold indefinitely after the family was harassed and hounded.

Pam Allen, CEO of Eagles Flight Advocacy and Outreach, has been coordinating search crews for Lina Sardar Khil and her family since she went missing from a San Antonio playground on December 20 at the age of three. She is four years old now.

But on those searches, she told KENS 5 ‘we have people that are stalking us, that go on these searches that film us, take pictures of us and come up with different stories’ as ‘keyboard warriors’ point to her parents, Riaz and Zarmeena Sardar Khil, as suspects ‘because they’re Afghani and because they’re Muslim.’

As she explained to the San Antonio Express News, some people in the community claim Lina’s parents ‘sold her,’ ‘married her off,’ and that she is a ‘child bride.’

‘All of these mean, harsh things that you would say to a father, really? You would say this to a father who’s crying for his baby?’ Allen said of Riaz, with whom she has grown close.

‘What if he had blond hair and blue eyes? Would you be saying that stuff? What if his last name was Smith? Would you be saying that stuff? Absolutely not.’

She noted that Riaz assisted American troops in Afghanistan, and was brought to the United States to remain safe as the Taliban retook control of the country ‘then this happens.’

Since Lina’s disappearance, she said, people have been rapping on his apartment door and throwing rocks at it. One man, she said, even visited the family’s home day after day and pounded on the door, yelling at Riaz about Lina’s disappearance.

Riaz told the Express News he called the police on the man, who arrested him, but he later returned. Fortunately, Riaz said, he was eventually able to stand his ground and scare him away – and he has not seen the man since.

Still, Allen said, she has installed security cameras at her home, and ‘we just don’t want to do those types of searches anymore’ as the family is preparing for the birth of their third child despite the anxiety they still feel about Lina’s disappearance.

‘Life should always be celebrated,’ Allen said. ‘But it’s just so hard for them to celebrate anything when Lina’s missing.’

The family is now receiving the help of a nonprofit organization, Project Absentis, which comprises a team of retired FBI agents, Border Patrol agents, intelligence officers and civilians who are working pro-bono on the case.

Their goal is to ‘generate additional leads and be able to get other people to talk to us that don’t feel comfortable talking to law enforcement,’ according to Abel Pena, a private investigator with the group.

They are now working to develop a new timeline surrounding Lina’s disappearance, KENS 5 reports.

‘We’re not just looking at the day of, but we’re trying to go back a couple of days at least and see what anomalies were out there, perhaps in the neighborhood,’ Pena told the news channel, suggesting there could have been ‘people in the area that people didn’t recognize as being from the area.’

In addition, Project Absentis is investigating any ties to the family’s home country of Afghanistan, and are relaying any new information to the San Antonio Police Department – which is continuing to investigate her disappearance as a Missing Person’s case.

Lina is described as being four-feet-tall and weighs 55lbs, with brown eyes and straight, shoulder-length brown hair tied in a ponytail

The police department has reported that Lina was last seen in the 9400 block of Fredericksburg Road on a playground outside the Villas Del Cabo complex, where she resides with her family.

According to Chief William McManus, at around 5 to 6pm, the girl’s mother left, but returned ‘a short time later.’ McManus said there were other children with adults at the playground at that time.

When Lina’s mother returned, the three-year-old was gone.

McManus said Lina’s family did not contact the police until about 7:15pm to report her missing. It is unknown at this time why the child’s mother had left at the time.

A lieutenant for the San Antonio Police Department’s Special Victims Unit told KENS 5 they are still getting tips on the case, and are following up on any leads.

Meanwhile, there is a reward of up to $250,000 for any information about Lina’s whereabouts, with most of the money being footed by the Islamic Center of San Antonio and the San Antonio Crime Stoppers offering the other $50,000.

Lina is described as being four-feet-tall and weighs 55lbs, with brown eyes and straight, shoulder-length brown hair tied in a ponytail. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, a red dress and black shoes.

Authorities are asking anyone who has information on Lina’s whereabouts to call SAPD Missing Person’s Unit at 210-207-7660.

And anyone who does not feel comfortable speaking with authorities can reach out to Project Absentis on their anonymous tip line at 726 -777-1359 or by email at info@projectabsentis.org.

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