Opinion 'They already looking for me': An Afghan interpreter on the last 24 hours
A rare peek inside the Fort Bliss Afghan refugee camp, 'Doña Ana Village'
An austere Army camp built in the 1960s to house 1,800 soldiers in training has expanded into a campus supporting nearly 10,000 Afghan refugees.An austere Army camp built in the 1960s to house 1,800 soldiers in training has expanded into a campus of dormitories and dining halls, community centers and soccer fields, as well as religious and medical facilities supporting nearly 10,000 Afghan refugees, nearly a third of them children.
On Monday, I feared the worst.
I had messaged Omid Mahmoodi, who worked as an interpreter and cultural adviser for the U.S. military for three years during the war.
We had been keeping in touch on-and-off since I firstabout his effort to secure a U.S. visa through a special program for Afghans who served alongside American troops during the war.
At that time, he said he feared the Taliban would "slaughter" him and others associated with the American-led war.
Fearing Afghan refugee influx, Turkey reinforces border
TATVAN, Turkey (AP) — Fearing a new refugee crisis, Turkey is sending soldiers to reinforce its border with Iran in order to stop a potential influx of Afghans fleeing the Taliban insurgency. Irregular arrivals are already up as Afghans who fled weeks and months ago show up at Turkey's rugged border area after a long trek across Iran. A group of Afghans encountered by The Associated Press near the border said they had deserted the Afghan military and fled the country as the Taliban offensive accelerated.“We came out of necessity.
Mahmoodi usually responded quickly. I kept checking back for the double check marks next to my message, to see if he had at least read it.
Nothing for three hours.
Then suddenly, my phone pinged.
"Hello, hope you're fine," he wrote. "I went to Kabul airport."
He sent videos of a throng of people heading to the airport gate. Inside, American troops were scrambling to secure the compound to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies.
Video: U.S.-bound airlift begins for Afghan interpreters (Reuters)
"Okay are you inside?" I responded. "If so, you will have a chance of leaving."
Another video of people trying to scale the wall after the Taliban blocked the entrance.
And then a photo of two listless bodies in the street.
"People got killed by the Taliban," he wrote. "Shot."
White House says a 'fair amount' of US military equipment provided to Afghans is now in Taliban hands
"Obviously, we don't have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.WASHINGTON — National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday a "fair amount" of military equipment the U.S. provided the Afghan National Security Forces was seized by the Taliban in the militant group's quick route of Afghanistan.
"But you're inside right? So you may get out tomorrow or the next day."
"No," he responded. He said the Taliban made those who had gotten into the compound leave. He had been let in by a U.S. Marine, he said.
"There is a lot of people with their family and kids. Taliban beating them," he said.
"So where are you? Outside?" I write.
"I am back to my location," he wrote. He said I should publish the videos and was free to use his name – again.
"You're not put me in trouble. They already seen all my interview," he said. "I am not scared. They already looking for me."
I don't know what to say in response. "I'm sorry" doesn't really cut it right now, and I'd already said that to him on Sunday. To which he responded: "It's ok."
But it's not.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul .
The Taliban, which for hours had been in the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after they would move farther into a city gripped by panic.Embattled President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, and American troops scrambled to evacuate thousands of U.S. diplomats and Afghans from the U.S. Embassy.