Veterans organization works nonstop to help evacuate Afghan interpreters
Tarjoman.org assists interpreters, families navigating around the Taliban
As the last U.S. troops exited Afghanistan early Tuesday, veteran organizations have been playing an active role in helping allies escape the country that has fallen under Taliban rule.
Among the allies: Akbar, who worked alongside the U.S. military as an interpreter, and who is using an alias to protect his identity. He told Fox News the current Taliban policy has been to hold Afghan interpreters and torture them for information before killing them – and he’s desperate to find safety for his family and himself.
“The situation is very bad in Afghanistan,” Akbar said. “They hold the interpreter, and they get information from them. It’s so bad, they don’t kill him. Right now, they just hold them to get information from them. After that, they just kill the interpreter.”
Akbar added that he and his family have received death threats, and there are reports the Taliban already have killed some Afghan interpreters.
“These interpreters, these friends of ours, they’re brave,” he said. “They helped save lives. They’re an honorable people.”
Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Gonzalo Lassally said he met Akbar in 2006 in Afghanistan. He said both he and Akbar were “deployed” there.
“I say ‘deployed’ because he was part of my unit in Afghanistan,” Lassally explained. “I worked beside Akbar every single day of that deployment. We talked about our families together. We shared stories together. We talked about our cultures together. We learned about each other.”
Akbar emphasized the support that he provided service members such as Lassally while they were in Afghanistan, and pleaded for the help of Americans to get out of the increasingly unstable country.
“We worked with them shoulder by shoulder against the Taliban,” he said. “We worked with them for a long time now, we want them to help our family out of Afghanistan. We are in a really bad condition and a really bad situation in Afghanistan, we need you to help us.”
Lassally and several other veterans created an organization called Tarjoman.org, named for a word meaning “interpreter,” to help get those like Akbar out from under Taliban control.
“We’ve established a network of retired active veterans that are all working together to provide as much information as we can provide to our Afghan allies on the ground,” he said.
Lassally said his organization has been trying to assist interpreters and their families unable to get to the Kabul airport by providing information and resources, such as medical aid, transportation and helping pay for visas.
Tarjoman.org is not the only organization with this mission. Lassally noted similar groups have come to the aid of U.S. allies in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover, assisting in getting them out of the country and providing support for refugees coming to the United States.
Akbar said he’s still trying to get his wife, his children and himself to a neighboring country.
“It’s your guys’ turn to help us,” Akbar said. “This is your guys’ turn to help us and take my family and me outside from Afghanistan.”
Lassally said he understood the bureaucratic process providing Afghan allies with the documentation they needed to get out of the country would take time, but noted “other ways to help them get out of the country until those things go through the process.”
“We owe it to them,” he went on. “We promised them after working with us so long we would help them, and we have to hold up to that promise.”
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