Conflicts & War

Afghan interpreters fear for their lives for working with Americans

By Baber Khan Sahel

Kabul, June 22 (EFE).- As President Joe Biden’s Sep.11 deadline for the Afghan pull-out approaches, thousands of interpreters in the war-torn country fear that they may face Taliban retribution for working with American forces.

Fearing for their lives and those of their family members, these so-called “Afghan allies,” who worked as translators, drivers, and fixers, have sought special visas to immigrate to the United States.

The Special Immigration Visas (SIV) are available to those who have worked for the US government and face threats in combat zones.

“The US cannot forget thousands of Afghan interpreters and employees and leave them to the mercy of the Taliban,” Abdul Rashid Shirzad, 37, told EFE.

Shirzad worked from 2009 to 2014 as an interpreter for the US military in Afghanistan.

He claimed he participated in several “high-risk” combat operations” and had helped save the lives of many US soldiers.

The former interpreter won a citation from Ricky Bledsoe, a US military commander.

“I highly recommend that Shirzad be granted SIV and allowed entry into the US,” Bledsoe wrote in the recommendation letter.

However, the State Department has denied him the visa due to the “lack of faithful and valuable services and (the) lack of sufficient documents.”

He said the department accused him of “unprofessional conduct and violation of policy” during his services terminated in 2014 for “unknown” reasons.

“The Taliban call us spies, ears and eyes of the American forces,” he said.

Like Shirzad, thousands of others have faced similar denials for various reasons.

Ahmad Wali is another ex-US employee whose visa application got chucked in 2019.

Wali worked for the US embassy in Kabul for over a decade before his employer put barred him.

He claimed that Taliban fighters have occupied his private farmlands in the Ghazni province and killed two from his family in retribution for working with the Americans.

The fear is flaring up as the Taliban capture more territories before the last of the American soldiers leaves Afghanistan on Sep.11.

However, the insurgents have pledged not to harm the former US government employees.

The militant group, in a statement, called on them “to return to their normal lives” without “any danger from us.” But many see it as a trap to prevent their evacuation.

“Taliban have never lived up to their commitments,” Nasir, another snubbed Afghan, who worked as a mechanic in the US embassy, told EFE.

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