“When you fly into Kabul, it’s this lively city surrounded by mountains with different visages of history and different historical periods all around. I went out at different points to Herat in the West, and to Kandahar, where again, you have monuments and remnants of past civilizations really stretching back thousands of years. So you have this sense of this great history… and I don’t know if romance is quite the right word, but it really was this sort of intriguing place, and filled with really interesting and warm people. So yeah, fond memories of warm dinners on cold winter nights and just this feeling that perhaps, after… particularly in the early days, that perhaps after decades of difficulties, that things were going to get better.”

My name is Jake Cusack. I manage a firm called CrossBoundary, which focuses on bringing investment into underserved markets. I grew up in Michigan and attended the University of Notre Dame. After graduating, I joined the Marine Corps. I was deployed to Iraq as a sniper platoon commander and intelligence officer. From this experience I became interested in economic development in tough places and went back to graduate school for a master’s in business administration and a master’s in public policy. While I was studying, I visited Afghanistan for the first time in 2010 to look at how entrepreneurship could be better furthered there, and how I could help bring in investment. I visited Afghanistan many times over the next decade. I traveled as a civilian but had past military and government relationships as well. Through my work, CrossBoundary brought investment into Afghan companies in agriculture, healthcare, and media. When Kabul fell, I did my best to help with the evacuations. I tried, and failed, to get back into Afghanistan, but I pivoted to remote support, coordinating the movement of a number of groups on the ground and becoming closely involved in the escape of my friend and former colleague, Tariq Aziz, and his family.

- Jake Cusack

Warning: the following content may contain triggering and/or sensitive material depicting war & violence

- WhatsApp Voice Note (Jake giving instructions to escapees)