Afghan interpreter beaten, tortured by Taliban in front of family as his SIV application lags

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An Afghan interpreter who aided the U.S. military for the last decade told Fox News the Taliban beat him in his home on Thursday night for suspected ties to the American government, as he and his family face a yearslong delay for approval of their Special Immigrant Visa applications. 

The interpreter, who requested his identity be kept anonymous for his and his family’s safety, told Fox News in an interview Thursday night over the phone that the Taliban came to his home and “tortured him” in front of his wife and his three young children.

“The Taliban came to our house and beaten me and tortured me and asked why we left home last week when the Taliban was checking our house,” he told Fox News. “We escaped and were hiding from the Taliban because I feared they know about my identity and my job because I was working for the U.S. government.” 

During the U.S. mission in August to evacuate thousands of American citizens and Afghan allies after Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban, the interpreter and his family traveled to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul trying to evacuate, but could not get through the crowds, tear gas and Taliban checkpoints. 

An Afghan interpreter suffered injuries from a Taliban beating.

The interpreter told Fox News his wife and two daughters returned home and encouraged him and his young son to keep trying, for fear that his staying in the country would result in being killed by the Taliban due to his work with the U.S. military. 

The interpreter told Fox News he got very close to the gate – but could not get through. 

After the final day of the U.S. mission on Aug. 31, when the final U.S. troops and military assets were withdrawn from Afghanistan, the interpreter and his family left their home to go into hiding from the Taliban. The interpreter told Fox News when they returned to their home this week, their neighbors warned them that the Taliban had been trying to search their house. 

The beatings left marks on the interpreter’s back and legs.

“After a week, we had to come home and pick up something, and the Taliban came back, and asked why we hadn’t been home,” the interpreter told Fox News. “I tried to hide my documents because if they find that, they will know and they will kill me. They will torture me.” 

“They were beating me, and trying to find out what my job was, and I told them I am just a simple civilian person, a simple civilian person,” he added. “I told them I was not part of the government or the U.S. coalition forces.” 

The interpreter said the Taliban yelled at him, asking, “Why do you shave your beard?” and questioned why he was “not wearing clothes like Taliban clothes.” 

The interpreter went on to describe how the Taliban beat him, saying they “put me through a lot of pain,” using “something in their hand,” and “put the gun to my head.” 

“They asked, ‘Are you a spy of the U.S. military? Are you a spy of the U.S. government?’” he recalled. “My kids were crying, my wife was crying, they tortured me and beat me in front of them and tried to take me to their station.” 

The interpreter said the Taliban questioned whether he was a U.S. spy.

The interpreter told Fox News that because of his family’s cries, the Taliban “pitied” him and did not take him to their station, but said they would return to search his house, and warned that if he was not present, they would “find me and they will shoot me.”

“My hands and body are shaking,” he told Fox News. “The most important thing is my family and my life.”

The interpreter’s wife told Fox News she was “very scared for the Taliban that they will kill my kids and my husband.” She went on, “If they kill my husband, how can I handle my life?” 

His wife added: “My husband was working with Americans and helped them, and right now, they’re not helping us.” 

The interpreter, who worked with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, as well as U.S. military contractors from 2011 until the end of 2014, told Fox News despite going through the application process, “I don’t know what happened, something was wrong with my case.” He detailed the steps he took to get approval and shared documents with Fox News. 

The interpreter said he was “disappointed,” because friends have been calling him asking why the United States “have not helped you.” 

“They left you behind,” he recalled his friends saying. “It makes me very disappointed.” 

The interpreter, who is in his 30s, told Fox News he remembered when the Taliban were last in control some 20 years ago. 

“The situation changed here very fast. When I was working with the U.S. forces, I had a very simple life,” he said. 

The interpreter, to the left in the blue shirt, working with Afghan forces. 

“Now, we have no liberty, we can’t leave the house, they will beat you and take you to jail,” he said. “If you listen to music, they will take you to jail.” 

His wife added: “Every door that we are trying to go to to ask for help, all of the doors have been closed for us. So we don’t have any hope. We don’t know where we can go to ask for help, so please help us.” 

Fox News first learned of the interpreter’s incident with the Taliban through a U.S. Army veteran who worked alongside the Afghan interpreter during his time in the country. 

“It was always said to us that if our interpreters, if they did a good job and were loyal, we would be able to write them letters of recommendation to get a SIV and come live in the United States,” the veteran told Fox News. 

The veteran shared further documents regarding the interpreter’s application with Fox News, which were reviewed for authenticity. The interpreter’s application was rejected, according to documentation, due to a “termination” from his role. 

“He was never terminated,” the veteran said. “They did away with our program. He wasn’t terminated, we just finished the work.” 

He added: “He has submitted six different copies of the application, and has six different veterans giving him letters of recommendation.” 

“He’s scared for his life right now, and he’s not sure what to do,” the veteran said, explaining that he’s been in touch with the State Department and congressional offices to try to help. “I’ve gotten through, but it’s just like a circle.” 

He added: “We promised these guys something.”

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