Afghan interpreter in Portland: People in Kabul are scared

Oregon

Raz Zazai fled Afghanistan about 11 months ago

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Raz Zazai grew up in a far northern province of Afghanistan and spent a decade on the battlefield serving the US military as an interpreter.

“I was a solider without weapon and each ambush and each contact and each firefight we got in, I was there and the situation we had I was playing, to be honest, with my life,” he told KOIN 6 News.

“When I was working I knew I was working for the freedom of this country and I should work from my heart.”

He and members of his family moved to the US about 11 months ago, and came to the US through SIV, a process took about 2 years. They settled in a suburb of Portland.

But he still has family members in Afghanistan. Zazai is worried about them and shared some stories and insights that shed light on recent events.

In 2010, the US and allies defeated the last Taliban stronghold in the Battle of Marjah.

“The first day we got air dropped there,” he said. “The whole Marjah district was full of IEds and the first few days me and the soldiers, the US Marines, we made kind of a grave for ourselves and stayed there for 7 days.”

Raz Zazai (in front) was an Afghan interpreter for the US military (Courtesy: Raz Zazai)

But 2 months ago, the Taliban took control of the province where he grew up. They cut off internet connections, making it hard for him to communicate with his family. He’s working to help get his mother and siblings to the US, as well as his wife’s parents.

He is especially concerned about his in-laws. His father-in-law worked for a US military contractor and said it’s incredibly dangerous for them to still be in the country.

“I can explain it easily for you,” he said. “They are going to behead him or they’re going to shoot him in front of the public.”

Asked what it was like seeing the Taliban recently take control of Kabul, he fought back tears and said, “I can’t explain.”

Zazai said his brother worked as a security guard at one of the US bases and has documentation that would allow him into the US. But he said the Taliban won’t let him get to the airport. He also said he has a friend and former colleague who’s been stuck at the airport in Kabul for a week with his wife and children.

“I know a lot of guys they are in Kabul, they are scared and they don’t want to go to the airport because of those explosions that happened in the last two days,” he said.

What’s happening in his country now has clouded everything, he told KOIN 6 News.

“I work here, making good money, I have a nice house, nice life, peace, my kids are going to school, they enjoy life here. But to be honest when this situation happened in Afghanistan I can’t enjoy my life here.”

Taliban rule, he said, will send Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages.

“It was the kind of life that you live in the dark. A man who is in prison, he can eat and breathe, but nothing else for him.”

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