Lina Sardar Khil (Missing Person)

Lina Sardar Khil

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Nickname: Unknown
Alternative Name: Unknown

La Apoda: Desconocida
Nombres alternativos: Desconocida

Disappearance (Desaparición)

Missing from: Villas Del Cabo, 9400 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, Texas, United States
Date Missing: December 20, 2021 (Monday)
Suspect: Unknown

Falta de: Villas Del Cabo, 9400 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, Texas, Estados Unidos
Falta en la fecha: 20 de diciembre de 2021 (lunes)
Sospechoso: Desconocido

Circumstances (Circunstancias)

When the Sardar Khil family (Riaz and Zarmeena) fled as refugees from the political and militant upheaval of Afghanistan to arrive in the US in 2019, they were seeking a safer life and better opportunities for their infant daughter, Lina. Born just one year prior to their relocation to the US, America would become the only home she is old enough to remember. With help from the local Afghan community, the family forged new roots in San Antonio, Texas; adjusting from their small village back home to the larger city they now lived in and slowly rebuilding new lives.

When the US military pulled out of Afghanistan, some of the US subcontractors extracted were Riaz’ and Zermeena’s brothers who were able to get to San Antonio shortly thereafter. As winter holidays approached, December 20 was meant to be a day of excitement and reconnection as the extended family came together for a reunion that evening.

Little Lina was now a cheerful three-year-old and older sister, catching on to the excitement that was surrounding the family that day. Happy to run off some of that excess energy, Lina was playing outside in the small play area located in the apartment complex of their home. The place was popular with the local children, and there were often kids hanging around the area including many of the other Afghan children living there.

There are many side alleys and paths surrounding the area (Link)

Sometime between 4:30 – 5:10pm (16:30 – 17:10), her mother saw Lina outside playing with her brother and no sign of anything amiss. The area is full of nooks, crannies, and little paths and eventually Lina wandered out of sight. It is not clear how many other children (if any) were out playing with her at the time. Some articles state that her mother left the courtyard for a short time, but if so it was not for very long and was not unusual for their community. The neighbors were familiar to them and many were fellow Afghans who often let their children outside alone to play. The area seemed safe and there was no sign of anyone suspicious hanging around that day or in the days prior. A few moments later her mother came looking for Lina, but suddenly found there was no sign of the girl as she began to desperately look around. After scouring the area, Zermeena called Riaz at work by 5:30pm (17:30) seeking help. With the sun setting and temperatures dropping, the alarm was sounded but Lina was nowhere to be found.

The family came together, pitching in for the search and asking neighbors if anyone had seen Lina or might know where she had gone. With no knew information, the police were brought in by approximately 7:15pm (19:15) and by 10:30pm (22:30) the Amber Alert had gone out. Although there was no evidence pointing to a kidnapping, police have continually treated the case as both a missing persons and an abducted child case. The FBI were also quickly brought in to begin aiding in the search. While the Amber Alert was discontinued on January 7, 2022, the investigation remains ongoing. There is some suggestion that Lina may no longer be in San Antonio or even Texas at all (Link). There is nothing to suggest that her parents were involved and accusations to that extent are unwelcome and biased suppositions.

Volunteers and various organizations from the San Antonio region continue to pitch in, maintaining the search for Lina. Organizations like Eagles Flight Advocacy and Outreach helped search the surrounding 27 miles or so around the Leon Creek Greenway, a popular area for leaving remains (Link). Local allies and organizations are joining together with the family to donate their time and money to raising public awareness of her disappearance. Donations from Crime Stoppers and the Islamic Center of San Antonio have expanded the reward for information to $250,000.

“I am missing my child, I cannot forget her and it is affecting me a lot and my other child who is coming to this world. . . . We all have the same pain, it doesn’t matter that I am from Afghanistan, I have a different culture, different religion. What we have in common is the pain of motherhood as a human, is the same as all people.”

Zarmeena Sardar Khil (Lina’s Mother) – ABC News


December 2022, the police released CCTV footage of Lina from the day she disappeared. The footage shows the child playing outside with her little brother before she walks towards the gateway and disappears. 

With increasing global migration trends, it has become apparent that refugee and immigrant children as well as international students are a particularly vulnerable group at risk for becoming missing persons.

Unfortunately, Lina is not even the first Afghan refugee toddler to disappear while playing outside. In 2016, Aref Ismaili, another little four-year-old Afghan refugee child, disappeared from a local park in Germany. Aref has not been seen since but there is evidence that suggests he may have been taken by multiple persons in a Black SUV. His investigation is also ongoing.

It seems these children often vanish when playing outside or when out with friends who they are eventually separated from.  

In the aftermath, the public then frequently creates a bandwagon of accusations involving negligence if not already making discriminatory claims related to their native culture. In Lina’s case, unfounded claims that her parents failed to watch her closely enough or, worse, were involved in her disappearance were made without any evidence to support the outrageous accusations. It leaves us worried that foreign families in similar situations will not feel safe seeking help from fear of facing similar unjustified abuse.

It should be observed that such accusations of negligence are generally based on personal or culturally based perceptions of child-rearing and safety that are not necessarily universally held around the world. The fact is that the ingrained hyperprotective fear many Americans hold for leaving children alone outside or letting them play out of sight (especially with friends) is not necessarily something other cultures would hold. The concept of “Stanger Danger” did not enter the average American’s vocabulary until the 1960s and it was not really until the 1980s that social awareness began to significantly increase. Rural Americans as late as the 1990s would often let minor children play in local parks or within city limits unattended or at least minimally watched. Furthermore, not all international communities (especially in underdeveloped areas where advanced technology is limited and/or news more restricted) are as bombarded with stories of missing persons on a day-to-day basis to trigger that concern. The constant sharing of cases through mass and social media in the US has heightened our awareness because we are constantly being introduced to the issue anew such that it feels like a constant threat. This is not true everywhere.

Particularly for small or rural neighborhoods where residents are more familiar with the people around them; strangers stand out; and it is generally more difficult to disguise or relocate a child without locals noting unusual activity.  For more isolated, geographically complex, or poor communities, such kidnappings are further hampered by limited ease of transportation or access to important supplies. The generally rare occurrence of a kidnapping in such communities creates a sense of safety that is not necessarily unfounded.

At issue with foreign immigrants, expatriates, and students is the modern trend in global migration towards the many massive cities who seemingly offer greater economic and cultural opportunities than our small towns. Cities that introduce a unique level of danger and risk, particularly for those unused to such environments.  The risks posed to the “small town girl in the big city” has been a theme throughout thousands of novels and films for a reason.

A situation further complicated where foreigners re-establish themselves within small “homosocio” communities of persons from the same country or ethnic group, a scenario that recreates the false sense of familiarity and security from back home.  It triggers an unusual parallel where the greater the stress in your environment from the unfamiliar, the more you connect with and feel comforted by the familiar.  The constant heightened stress that foreigners live in from finding themselves in a situation where everything (even a simple “hello”) is strange and could to some extent threatening is offset by a simultaneous heightened sense of security and stress release when encountering something that offers a connection through familiarity.   Communities and housing areas where we are surrounded by fellow expats (especially those from our own original cultures) create a false sense of security and safety that encourages us to let down even our normal sense of caution.  

Then there is the fact that international children can have an unusual trust for strangers. Everyone around them outside of their immediate community, will appear to be behaving strangely leaving them unable to clearly identify interactions that are particularly threatening. This is perhaps worsened when the children are new to the foreign country or are living within highly isolated communities. Moreover, without limited grasp of the local language, they will also be unable to ask for assistance or to explain to someone what is wrong.

Where the immigrant community is particularly insulated, the locals external to that group may not recognize that the child is now with a stranger even they did observe something. Furthermore, the victims’ families may be unfamiliar with local law enforcement procedures or are from countries where law enforcement was not reliable assistance, creating greater hurdles in those precious hours immediately after an abduction. Then there is the aftermath, where social and national media sources are affected by inherent biases that may result in slower or less prolific coverage (compare the case of “Summer Wells missing”- which brings back ~227,000 hits on Google Search with that of “Lina Sardar Khil” missing who has ~75,000). Nor do their families generally have the local online presence that can help spread awareness of the situation to the public. Worsening the situation are circumstances where people harboring discriminatory biases actively contribute negligent and false gossip or accusations to the situation.

Perhaps the most concerning are those who are traveling alone – students, young adults – those who do not have anyone checking on them daily and ready to raise the alarm when they go missing.

There is no clear solution for the situation, but there are certain steps communities can take to mitigate the risks for visitors or new residents in their neighborhoods. Reach out to the local foreigners with both personal connections and public messages increasing awareness both of the risks they now face and the steps for finding help quickly if needed.

If you live near one of the immigrant communities, help them to keep an eye out. Become familiar with their faces and their children so that you will recognize a threat or kidnapping situation should it appear. Look out for them, for they are some of our most vulnerable residents and may not know what to look for themselves.

*Most of the information above comes from my own experience living and working abroad for almost a decade. Locals are generally unaware how often foreigners are targeted for everything from scams and blackmail to unfair pricing to more egregious rapes and assaults. Not to mention how difficult it is to guard yourself against the unknown or to isolate moments of genuine threats from a constant sense of unfamiliarity. This is not an issue unique to any country and can only be combated by local citizens who are willing to reach out and educate their foreign neighbors on strategies to protect themselves, legally, within the community.

Description (Descripción)

  • Date of Birth: February 20, 2018
  • Age at Disappearance: 3
  • Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
  • Nationality: Afghanistan
  • Gender at Birth: Female
  • Hair: Brunette, Shoulder-Length, Straight
  • Eye Color: Brown
  • Height: 4’0″
  • Weight: 55lbs
  • Languages Spoken: Pashto
  • Fecha de Nacimiento: 20 de febrero de 2018
  • Años: 3
  • Etnia: Del Medio Oriente
  • Nacionalidad: Afganistán
  • Sexo al nacer: Mujer
  • Cabello: Morena. Cabello liso y hasta los hombros
  • Color de los ojos: Marrón
  • Altura: 122cm
  • Peso: 24.9kg
  • Idiomas: Pastún

Distinguishing Marks or Factors (Características Distintivas)

  • Unknown
  • Desconocido

Medical Concerns (Atención Médica)

  • Unknown
  • Desconocido

Suspect (Sospechoso)

  • Unknown
  • Desconocido

Clothing (Ropa)

  • Red Dress with elaborate beading
  • Black Jacket
  • Black Shoes
  • Hair in a ponytail
  • Blue Bangles and Gold-Toned Bangles
  • Gold Earrings (Real Gold)
  • Taweez (Ta’wiz) – a pendant necklace that has verses from the Quran
  • Vestido rojo con cuentas elaboradas
  • Chaqueta negra
  • Zapatos negros
  • Pelo en una cola de caballo
  • Pulseras de azul y Pulseras en color dorado.
  • Un collar colgante que tiene versos del Corán

Vehicle (Vehículo)

  • Unknown
  • Desconocido

If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact:

Or use the QR Code (right) to find contact information for the National Police.


  • Zaru, D. (2022) ‘Police chief on missing girl Lina Sardar Khil: ‘Nobody disappears into thin air’, ABC News, 22 June. Link.
  • Zaru, D. (2022) ‘Missing girl Lina Sardar Khil’s 4th birthday marks 2 months since her disappearance’, ABC News, 20 February. Link.
  • Zaru, D. (2022) ‘New photo of missing 3-year-old Lina Sardar Khil could provide fresh clue’, ABC News, 18 January, Link.
  • Alfonseca, K. (2021) ‘Search is on for missing 3-year-old girl in Texas’, ABC News, 21 December, Link.
  • Duran, S. (2022) ”It’s a hard day’ | Family of missing Lina Sardar Khil mark another month without their daughter’, 20 August, Link.
  • McNeel, B. (2022) ‘An Afghan Family Came to San Antonio Seeking a Safer Future. Then Their Child Went Missing.’, Texas Monthly, 28 June. Link.
  • Missing Persons Center, Link.
  • Conklin, A. (2022) ‘Family of missing Lina Sardar Khil, 3, being stalked and harassed with conspiracy theories: report’, Fox 7, 23 May. Link.
  • Sorace, S. (2021) ‘Father of missing Texas 3-year-old speaks out as search continues’, Fox 7, 23 December. Link.
  • Best, P. (2022) ‘Lina Sardhar Khil’s family observes her fourth birthday in her absence two months after she disappeared’, Fox 7, Link.
  • Beltran, J. (2022) ‘Lina Khil’s family harassed while awaiting new baby; 1 man arrested,’ San Antonioa Express News, 19 May. Link.



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