Former Marine, Jimmy Hurley, recently launched an effort to rescue his former interpreter Haji (nicknamed Tiger), as well as his wife and children. Earlier this month, Hurley spoke to CNN about the situation, which is only worsening as the days pass.
“They had him for 4 hours and took his phone, threatened to kill him and destroy his phone, shooting the ground next to him,” Hurley posted on Instagram, alongside a picture of the crowds surrounding Hamid Karzai International Airport.
According to Hurley, Haji is attempting to get out of the country every day. The main issue for the translator and his family is that the application process for evacuations appears to have stalled. This leaves many applicants unable to prove they have actually begun the SIV process.
Haji has submitted multiple applications for a visa to the United States, all of which have been denied. The first two denial letters that he received back cited claims about his work performance, which does not align with what his platoonmates have said.
Haji’s former platoon leader, Retired Maj. Joseph Hanson, spoke to CNN about the translator’s work, saying, “The risks to an interpreter are the same as to any combat Marine… Every firefight I was in with Haji, he’s there, taking part in that risk.”
Yesterday, Haji attempted to pass through a series of Taliban checkpoints in order to reach the airport in Kabul. At the second checkpoint, he was captured and held for four hours. He was eventually released, but only after being severely beaten. Bravely, Haji later returned to the same checkpoint, and passed through successfully.
Although Haji made it beyond the checkpoint, he was completely denied access to the airport. The Marines stationed at the gate informed him that his documents were insufficient.
Interpreter in danger
Today, Hurley informed Pop Smoke Media that Haji’s desperation has not meshed well with the demands of those stationed at the airport.
In order to be considered for a flight out, an individual has to provide extensive documents pertaining to their whole party. This even requires real time photos of the entire family in the clothes they are wearing when they arrive, according to Hurley.
The main problem is that applicants who are not getting their confirmation letter and case number from the U.S. Department of State are incapable of making it through the airport gates. Without the Department’s total attention, in terms of accepting and processing applications, many like Haji and his family will be left behind.
Making all of this even worse, Pop Smoke Media also received word that there have been chartered flights leaving with ten to thirty empty seats. These seats could easily be filled, if all of those applying for an SIV are given the proper chance to go through that process.
Haji is a member of the nonprofit No One Left Behind, which is dedicated to helping U.S. interpreters to leave the country. The thing is, if Haji doesn’t get his application confirmation and case number in time, he will be stuck in Afghanistan indefinitely.
How to Help
To help with the ongoing efforts to evacuate Afghan citizens like Haji, contact your local representatives and tell them to urge the Department of State to get these application confirmation letters and case numbers out faster.
To donate to the efforts aimed at getting Haji and his family evacuated, go to their GoFundMe here.