Afghan Military Translator For U.S. Left Behind Anticipates Getting Beheaded by Taliban

One Afghan man who acted as a military translator for the U.S. for 15 years, but was left behind amid evacuations from Afghanistan, now anticipates being beheaded by the Taliban as he shelters in a hotel with his family, the Associated Press reported. The former translator's name was not disclosed by the AP for his safety.

"Unfortunately we are left behind now," the man said Wednesday. "No one heard our voice."

The man said that his funds to pay for hotel shelter with his family were dwindling as chartered evacuation flights ready to transport more evacuees out of the country have been awaiting Taliban approval for over a week, the AP reported. U.S. Army veterans attempted but were not successful in getting the interpreter out of Afghanistan during the mass airlift that ended Aug. 30, but some are still working to bring him and his family to safety.

"I hope we can help them out, and get them out of this mess," said Thomas McGrath, a retired Army colonel and one of the veterans working to help the former interpreter.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Afghan Evacuees Arrive in Germany
One Afghan man, who acted as an interpreter for the U.S. for 15 years, is fearing a beheading by the Taliban after U.S. evacuation efforts failed to transport him and his family out of the country before the airlift ended on Aug. 30. Evacuees from Afghanistan walk from a temporary tent to a bus at Ramstein Air Base on August 26, 2021 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Hundreds of vulnerable Afghans are waiting for permission from Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to board prearranged charter flights standing by at the airport in Mazar-e-Sharif.

The group includes dozens of American citizens and green card holders and their families, the Afghans and their American advocates say.

"We think we are in some kind of jail," said one Afghan woman among the would-be evacuees gathered at one large hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif.

She described the Americans and green-card holders in their group as elderly parents of Afghan-American citizens in the United States.

Taliban leaders, who named a new cabinet Tuesday in the wake of their lightning takeover of most of the country last month, say they will allow people with proper documents to leave the country. Taliban officials insist they are currently going through the manifests, and passenger documents, for the charter flights at Mazar-e-Sharif.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. was working with the Taliban to resolve the standoff over the charter flights.

He rejected an assertion from a Republican lawmaker, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, over the weekend that the standoff at Mazar-e-Sharif was turning into a "hostage situation" for American citizens in the group.

"We've been assured all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave," Blinken said in Doha, Qatar, a major transit point for last month's frantic U.S. military-led evacuations from Afghanistan.

Later Tuesday, 12 Democratic lawmakers added to the pressure for evacuees, in a letter urging the administration to disclose its plans for getting out all of the hundreds of at-risk people remaining in Afghanistan, and not just American citizens.

"Our staff have been working around the clock responding to urgent pleas from constituents whose families and colleagues are seeking to flee Afghanistan, and they urgently require timely, post-withdrawal guidance to best assist those in need," Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Gerald Connolly and nine other lawmakers from President Joe Biden's party wrote.

Blinken, in Doha, said the Taliban had told U.S. officials that the problem in Mazar-e-Sharif was that passengers with valid travel documents were mixed in with those without the right travel papers.

The Afghan woman contacted at the hotel — an employee of a U.S.-based nonprofit, Ascend, that works with Afghan women and girls — also spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity for her security. She said those in her group have proper passports and visas, but the Taliban are blocking them from entering the airport.

Like the interpreter, she said she has been waiting for eight days.

At one point last week, alarm spread through the women's side of her hotel in the city when warnings came that the Taliban were searching the would-be evacuees on the men's side, and had taken some away.

"I am scared if they split us and not let us leave," she said. "If we can't get out of here, something wrong will happen. And I am afraid of that."

The former U.S. military interpreter, at the hotel with his family of eight children and wife, said he would expect beheading by the Taliban given his work with the U.S. military, and based on what rights groups say are past Taliban attacks on Afghan civilians who have worked with U.S. forces.

"They'll probably kill him," McGrath agreed, expressing fear for the man's children as well.

The interpreter had always told his American comrades that he believed his work with them was in service of his own country, the retired colonel said. "He put a lot on the line by lining up with us," McGrath said.

An array of Americans -- many of them with some past experience in Afghanistan, or other ties -- have been working for weeks to try to help evacuate at-risk Afghans. Much of that effort is focused now on the planes in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Some of those Americans pushing for U.S. action said Tuesday they fear the Biden administration will help out American citizens and leave behind green card holders, Afghans who used to work with Americans, and others whose work has left them vulnerable, including journalists, women's advocates and rights workers.

"The game changed partway through," said Marina LeGree, the American head of Ascend.

Antony Blinken at Press Conference
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. was working with the Taliban to resolve a standoff over charter flights waiting to transport evacuees from Afghanistan. Blinken, speaks during a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP