On October 28th, the Pentagon reversed a decision to provide refuge and relocation to the US for an Afghan helicopter pilot who protected and provided support to US forces operating in the country. The pilot, Major Mohammad Naiem Asadi, had personally helped to protect the life of an American pilot who had crashed “into Taliban-contested territory” earlier this year.
Such instances of sacrifice and service were not anomalies to Asadi, but rather his modus operandi. His assistance to American forces, however, made him an enemy of the Taliban. His life, as well as his wife’s and daughter’s, were threatened. As a result, he had been approved for relocation to the US by both the US Department of Defense and US Citizenship and Immigration Service weeks in advance and passed several background checks. Yet in his time of need, hoping to escape imminent danger — a danger “directly related to faithful execution of the job he was trained, equipped and advised by the US to do” — he was left with no hope. On the exact day of intended departure, and with no reason provided, the Asadi family’s escape was canceled. They remain in Afghanistan, in hiding.
Unfortunately, Asadi is not alone. As of this year, there are over 9,000 Afghan and Iraqi nationals who had provided cultural, translation, and military support waiting on the State Department’s expatriation list. In May of last year, the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2019 was introduced in Congress, which aimed to provide 4,000 additional visas for Afghan interpreters. The legislation continues to languish.
the United States is to meet its enemies abroad and not on our own soil, we are
going to have to rely on people like Mohammad Asadi. They are not rented, nor
fair weather friends. They are vital to the victories our troops achieve. To
abandon them is the height of disloyalty, beneath this great nation. But the
Asadi case is an opportunity for the next Congress to right a wrong, and to do
the same for the thousands of others who await a return to the loyalty and
decency they showed our armed forces in their time of need.
Note: For our readers interested in this issue, please revisit this event with AEI’s Paul Wolfowitz and General David Petraeus.