DENVER (KDVR) — After the last of the American troops left Afghanistan, some Afghan-American families worry that without the security of U.S. troops in the country, it leaves many vulnerable.
“We made it back last week but I left behind my whole family. My parents, my brothers, my sister and the family of my wife,” Haroon Zarify, who has lived in Colorado since 2016, said.
Zarify said his family worked for nearly a decade with U.S troops. He said his dad was a security supervisor for U.S. forces, and now with troops gone, it leaves a target on his family’s back.
“When the suicide bomb happened (at the Kabul airport), my brother was injured. He was there. That stuff can happen at any moment for any member of my family anywhere,” Zarify said.
Zarify said he has attempted to apply for Special Immigrant Visas for his family, but he worries that with the U.S. no longer in the country, those visas will no longer work. He wants U.S. leaders to have an answer on what they are going to do to help the people left behind.
“Americans are out and there are thousands who are qualified to move to the U.S., especially people who worked with Americans for so many years,” Zarify said.
Even in America, ‘I am fearful’
Another man, Ali, who wants to keep his last name anonymous for the safety of his family still stuck in Kabul, said he saw the worst of the Taliban in the late 1990s when he was a young kid. He eventually fled the country and became an American refugee in 2009.
“I saw Taliban. They cut off hands. They kill people and hang them on the trees. I remember as a kid at 12 years old I saw dead bodies everywhere,” Ali said.
He said since coming to the United States, he has converted to Christianity and worries for fellow Afghan Christians still stuck in Afghanistan. He said they are a group largely at risk.
“Even I fear in America. I live here. I am fearful if they hear my voice they are going to go after my family and kill them,” Ali said.
Ali said that his family in Afghanistan worked for U.S nonprofits there and he wants to see them saved, along with other Afghan-American allies.
“I’m in constant fear (for) my friends and family and all my relatives,” Ali said.
Since the last of the U.S. troops left, Ali said he has received videos from his family in Kabul who said the city has turned into a war zone. The videos show continuous gunfire throughout the night.
He said the Taliban feels now they are in complete control.
“They (the Taliban) are afraid of America but now all Americans left, and now they are free to do whatever they want to do,” Ali said.
Ali said his family went to the Pakistan border but was turned away.
He has now reached out to several state representatives for help and also applied for visas for his family, but he said it’s just a waiting game on whether they will make it out.
“They are beating people on the street. They are torturing them. They are like animals,” Ali said.
The Secretary of State said Monday the U.S. will keep trying to get Americans and Afghans out of the country by working with friendly neighboring countries. The thousands of Afghans who couldn’t escape might have to rely on the Taliban to allow their departure.