The battle for Baby L: From war-torn Afghanistan to Virginia and now maybe back again

FLUVANNA COUNTY, VIRGINIA: The US government has raised serious concerns over allowing an American Marine to keep an Afghan war orphan.

The Justice Department has warned of the consequences after a Virginia judge’s ruling, reviewed by The AP.

The body uses the words ‘endorsing an act of international child abduction’ may be used by the world after Marine Major Joshua Mast and his wife were given permission to keep the child, possibly violating International Law.


Authorities were surprised at how the Virginia couple managed to convince a Virginia judge on the adoption of the girl called Baby L. The child has reportedly been with the couple since 2021.

Now, the US Marine is involved in a custody battle and being accused of abducting the Afghan war orphan.


Who is Baby L?

In a Special Operations raid in Afghanistan in 2019, a family lost all its members, including a couple, and their five children, except a two-month-old baby.


Marine Joshua Mast arranged an ad hoc for the surviving child and brought it to the base. He then flew back to his home in Virginia with the child now referred to as Baby L.



How did Baby L land in the US?

As per records, an Afghan couple related to Baby L went to court and alleged that in August 2021, the Masts lured them to the US under pretenses and took custody of her without their permission.


The American couple has denied the claims and they have been honest and open to the family about their intentions.

The Justice Department has written to the Virginia court based on ‘intentional misrepresentations from the Marine and skipped critical safeguards to protect children being brought to the United States.’

“The grave harm that the Masts have inflicted upon the child, her family, and the United States is ongoing,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in the court documents.


The filings include signed declarations from state and defense department officials.

“Failing to return the child, now four, to Afghan relatives in the US could jeopardize American efforts to resettle Afghan refugees, threaten international security pacts, and might be used as propaganda by Islamic extremists – potentially endangering US soldiers overseas,” warned Justice Department attorneys and other US officials involved in the case.

'Baby L' was found during a Special Operations raid (screengrab/CBS Morning)
‘Baby L’ was found during a Special Operations raid (screengrab/CBS Morning)


Did Masts lie to the local circuit court judge?

The Justice Department wrote in its filing that the Marine and his wife told the judge in 2019 that the infant was a ‘stateless’ daughter of foreign fighters from an unknown neighboring country.

They also told the court that the Afghan government wishes to waive jurisdiction over the child.

Judge Richard E Moore made the adoption permanent the following year, as per Daily Mail.

“The child, however, was never ‘stateless,’ the Afghan government did not relinquish its claim over her, and the orders ‘were obtained fraudulently by the Masts who knowingly made false representations before the Virginia courts,” the Justice Department wrote.


It further stated, “The perception that the United States is a place where Afghan children can be taken from their families, over their families’ objection, without effective recourse, increases those perceived risks.”

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