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The Loyal Afghan Who America Abandoned
Worked 17 years on U.S. base and now scared for his life in Afghanistan
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Asas worked on an American military base in Afghanistan for 17 years. He rose to a prominent position. He speaks perfect English. He has the paperwork to come to America, but he was stranded in Afghanistan. He’s gone into hiding from the Taliban.
“I’ve worked half my life on this base,” Asas told me by phone from a safe house in another region. “It was heartbreaking news to be left here because I thought I would be like an important person, and the U.S would think I need to get removed.”
(Asas is not his real name. It was his code name on the base and he’s hopeful that his former American colleagues will recognize it and come help him.)
He lived and worked all those years at the Forward Operating Base Fenty, which is a military base built around Jalalabad Airport. He was the procurement officer for everything for the base.
Asas, 42, explained that the military gave him two options in May. He could stay living on the closed base when the U.S. left or take six months salary and leave.
“I said I have to leave now. I would like to live.” Asad left with documents that his U.S. government contact gave him that would supposedly get him into America during the evacuation. (I am not publishing any identifying documents here. Asas also provide multiple photos of himself on the base, but I’m not posting them for the safety of both the Americans and Afghans.)
The U.S. helped 100,000 Afghan refugees get out of the country, but Asas got lost in the shuffle. “I’ve tried my best to get messages but no one responded to me,” he told me. “Even my unit leaders said, ‘You’re off duty now.’”
Asas is coordinating other Afghan allies that need rescue. He said he made a list of 100 Afghans who have worked more than 10 years for the U.S. military who were left behind. “They are all expecting for the help to come,” he told me.
“Living in Afghanistan is impossible right now,” he said. “We can’t move out of the country — everything is blocked. [The Taliban at checkpoints] will ask, ‘Why are you leaving the country?”
In May, Asas moved his 11 children off the base. But when the Taliban took control of the country, he left his family so they would be safe too. “My children start crying. They were afraid. So I left that place and went back to Kabul.” (He’s no longer in Kabul.)
I heard chickens in the background as Asas spoke in perfect English. He told me he took language classes on the base when he started working as a guard. He was later promoted to guard the head of the base, then to work with a special team and finally the base’s procurement officer.
He said the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process was supposed to work for him. The HR person on the base gave him a recommendation letter for the SIV application. He said he also has an “on land visa with a gate pass to go to the airport.”
But it was total chaos during the evacuation. Below is the email our government sent to the local employees (LE) in Afghanistan to go to Kabul Airport (HKIA):
“It wasn’t easy to make a decision. It was a very bad situation because everyone was moving to the airport, but a lot of people died here. We couldn’t take our families. The Embassy texted us to stay away from the airport.”
Despite being left behind, Asas still loves Americans.
“I would always say, ‘I have a job in a jobless country.’ So I am thankful to God and my base. i was supporting my family because of my salary. And now I have educated all of my family. we had a very good life. Unfortunately, we lost everything…”
Asas started crying. I waited several minutes for him to speak again. I could hear animals and young children in the background.
“We lost everything when we closed the base. And that is why I knew there was nothing left here. I didn't know the Taliban would take over but right away We can’t imagine what will happen now.”
If you know Asas and want to get in touch with him, email me at email@example.com or leave in the comments, which are open to all.
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