Afghans who got out in time fear for relatives: 'It's the last time we're going to meet each other'

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ByMiya Shay via KTRK logo
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
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An interpreter and his wife arrived in the U.S. in 2020 with a special visa. They went to visit family in Kabul in July but found themselves in the middle of the government collapse. When they found a way home, he had to leave his mother and siblings behind.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With his 2-year-old daughter by his side, a former U.S. military interpreter is relieved to be back in Houston, just as the airlift out of Kabul has ended.

Standing in his baren apartment, tears rolled down his face at the prospect of never seeing his mother and siblings again.

"Saying goodbye to my mom and sisters," he told ABC13.

We are not identifying the man because he fears for his safety. The interpreter, along with his wife and young daughter, were recipients of a special visa and arrived in the U.S. last year. In July, the family went back to Kabul to visit his family. They planned to return after a few weeks but got stuck by the quick fall of the Afghan government.

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"Nobody thought the Taliban is coming, they would take Kabul," he sighed. "It's so sad, it's so sad."

Through a network of military veterans and the organization Combined Arms, the interpreter and his family were able to get to the Kabul airport. However, his mom, siblings, nieces, and nephews were not allowed inside.

"They said it was the last time we're going to meet each other, very difficult for me, and them as well," he said. "My nephews begged me to take them in my luggage. Even little kids, they know, they fear the Taliban."

The family managed to get on one of the final military planes to Qatar, then took commercials flights until they made it back to Houston Sunday night. Thousands of Afghans in Houston, though, remain frustrated as they also have loved ones stuck.

SEE ALSO: America's longest war ends after 20 years as last US troops depart Afghanistan

"My friends and family, they're changing homes, checking every night. They can't just live in their house," said Abdul Rahman, another former interpreter trying to get friends out.

His cell phone pings every few minutes with messages from people in Afghanistan. Rahman said he's working with some retired members of the U.S. military, who are planning private missions to rescue Afghans they worked with during the war.

"They're trying different ways. We can't talk too much about it because it's a secret operation, and they can be targeted too," said Rahman.

As of now, clandestine missions may be the only hope for Afghans trying to get out. The last American military plane left on Monday and for the interpreter who just made it out, the voices of his young nieces and nephews haunt him.

"They're crying, 'Save my life, if possible, take my life with you,'" he recalled.

Now, he is praying for a miracle that may never come.