Afghan interpreter on hiding from the Taliban: "Every moment I'm in danger"

·2 min read

Former Marine Mike Donoghue speaks with deep respect of an Afghan translator who embedded with his unit in 2009. For security reasons, CBS News will refer to the translator as Shirzad.

"He's an incredibly honorable man who served our country at great peril to his own life," Donoghue told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.

Shirzad is still in Afghanistan. He's been in hiding since the Taliban's takeover, and Donoghue said it won't be long before the Taliban find him and his family.

"Could be hours, could be days. I'm just hoping he makes it back," said Donoghue.

Documents reviewed by CBS News suggest Shirzad applied for a special immigrant visa as early as 2016. Donoghue said the process was botched and he re-submitted Shirzad's papers, along with multiple recommendations from the U.S. military.

"Every moment I'm in danger," Shirzad told CBS News. He's hiding in a safe house in Afghanistan that's littered with garbage and filth. 

Shirzad said he was taking the risk of speaking to the media because he has only two options: Get his message out and get to the U.S., or face the very real prospect that he and his family will be killed by the Taliban.

"Every moment, I feel the Taliban will find out, and they will kill us," said Shirzad.

After narrowly escaping a suicide bombing attack at Kabul's airport, Shirzad fled the city with his wife and children.

"I am scared about my family and kids, that's it," he said, being overcome by emotion as he told CBS News that the Taliban were hunting for former interpreters. "Please expedite our process. Expedite our process. We are almost getting killed." 

"God, what did we do to these people? What did we do? We left them. We abandoned them," said Donoghue.

A State Department spokesperson would not address Shirzad's case but told CBS News that special immigrant visas were being processed at "an accelerated rate," and that the department would continue its "relentless efforts" to help vulnerable Afghans.

"If you're 'relentless,' you look at this documentation, and you say, 'Why is he still there?' Figure it out," demanded Donoghue. "That's what it's gonna take, is a leader in the State Department or in our government to just say: 'Figure it out.'" 

"If we, as the most powerful country in the world, don't honor our word, what good is it?"

As night fell in Afghanistan and the internet connection faded, Shirzad told CBS News that he still hadn't lost faith in his American friends.

"Right now, my biggest hope and my dream is the United States. I am dreaming, man," he said.

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