A former interpreter who was tortured by the Taliban while working for the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan has called on UK authorities to help save his family trapped in the country.
Mohamad, whose second name has been omitted for his family’s security, fears for the safety of his mother, wife and siblings – who are now in hiding in Afghanistan.
His father was killed by the Taliban three years ago, and he has not seen his family in person since December 2019 due to the threat to his life and the coronavirus pandemic.
A British citizen in his early 30s, he now lives and works in Newport, Wales, having arrived in the UK in 2015.
In 2009, he worked with American Special Forces in the Kandahar province, before joining the British forces as a patrol interpreter and cultural adviser in 2011.
Mohamad said the Taliban captured him in 2014, holding him for over six weeks, beating him and threatening to kill him because he was working with the British.
“(They thought I) had a lot of information… I told them: ‘I’m just an interpreter, I’m not an important guy’,” he told the PA news agency.
“The Taliban cut my left ear and sent a video to my mum and dad.
“My mum was shocked, she was in the hospital for a couple of days because of the blood all over my face.”
Mohamad’s father, who was an interpreter with the British Armed Forces, was also asked for a large sum of money from the Taliban to stop his son from being killed – which the family could not afford.
He was later released and managed to escape the country, before eventually arriving in the UK where he now has citizenship.
Mohamad applied for a visa for his partner through the UK’s Afghanistan Locally Employed Staff Ex-Gratia Scheme for husbands and wives of interpreters – but was forced to flee before they could be married.
“My dad told me: ‘Don’t wait, we don’t have enough time for the wedding,’” he added.
“‘Just leave the country. We will sort it out the next time you come.’”
Mohamad has since married his wife and for the last seven years has been trying to help her to come to the UK, but her visa application has been rejected.
In mid-August, her visa was finally approved, but she was no longer able to leave the country because of the Taliban takeover.
“I received an email from the evacuation team in Kabul that your wife should come to airport,” he said.
“When my family arrived to airport there was a massive crowd of people outside the Baron Hotel.
“She waited six days outside the hotel, but unfortunately she could not make it to get inside the airport.”
Mohamad said his wife fell unconscious twice in the heat and her feet were left bleeding from standing amongst the large crowd.
He has been appealing to the UK Government to help him start the relocation process for her and his other family members as soon as possible, as he fears for their health.
“My family thinks I’m wasting my time and I keep telling them: ‘One day I’ll come, the Government is working’,” he said.
“They think I’m lying, that I’m just a liar.”
Mohamad said he now feels desperate and wonders whether to travel to Afghanistan himself, despite the risks posed by his past.
“I was thinking yesterday that I should walk through by foot from other countries to Afghanistan,” he said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “During Operation Pitting we worked tirelessly to safely evacuate as many people out of Afghanistan as possible, airlifting more than 15,000 people from Kabul including thousands of Arap (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) applicants and their dependents.
“We will continue to do all we can to support those who have supported us, and our commitment to those who are eligible for relocation is not time-limited and will endure.
“The Arap scheme remains open to applications and we will continue to support those who are eligible.”