Former Afghan interpreter for US Army desperate to bring his family to the Valley
PHOENIX — An Afghan-American man who is a former linguist for the U.S. Army is desperate to evacuate his extended family from violence and the terrorist takeover of Afghanistan, pleading with officials to get them to the Valley where he lives.
“It’s heartbreaking, that’s like… emotional,” the man told KTAR News 92.3 FM while fighting tears.
For this story, he asked to be called “Mohammad” and conceal his identity and his city of residence, for fear of his family’s safety abroad.
Mohammad is watching his homeland’s shocking collapse with the rest of the world, but he is more concerned about getting his family out.
“I don’t care about the collapse,” Mohammad said. “I care about mom, dad, brother, sister. My brother has kids, girls who couldn’t go back to school.”
He and his wife have family members who worked for the failed Afghan government and they could be atop the hit lists of the Taliban and ISIS-K, the terror group that claimed responsibility for the deadly Kabul Airport attacks on Thursday.
“The Kabul Airport right now, which is the main part of the evacuation process right now, I was directly involved with that project to build from zero to the top,” Mohammad recalled.
Mohammad — now a U.S. citizen — is trying to rescue 28 extended family members and hopes the Department of State will give him priority because he served the U.S. military from 2002-09.
He is even trying to send his family members to a third country, like Canada.
“And they said, ‘If you’re not living in Canada, then you cannot apply for them,'” Mohammad said. “Wow. Who do you want to help? I’m willing to pay for the paperwork, but they say, ‘Sorry.'”
Part of Mohammad’s family had been waiting at the Kabul Airport on Thursday. Now, they’re hunkered down at home.
“They don’t want to go to where they were working. They’re just sitting at home,” he said. “My father is the only one to get out and bring the food.”
The two men spoke on Thursday following the deadly blast. The father’s voice was shaking.
“He said, ‘I don’t want to talk, but you know the situation better than me. It’s the worst I have ever seen,'” Mohammad recalled.
And like everyone else, Mohammad has questions.
“Where did all those trillions of dollars and lives go?” Mohammad asked. “People were dying there. I saw them.”
He had no calls returned from the congressional offices and other agencies that he called for help.
KTAR News got him in direct contact with a Valley refugee placement center and the office of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
The senator’s team is expediting Mohammad’s applications for his family’s evacuation to the Department of State.