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Help Save Sayed, Afghan Interpreter for the U.S. Army

This petition had 17,808 supporters

My dear friend Sayed has been working as an interpreter in his native Afghanistan for the U.S. Army since the summer of 2009. The service of local national interpreters has been instrumental to U.S. operations in Afghanistan over the years. In his six years of service, Sayed’s work has saved countless American lives. He has translated interceptions regarding planned ambushes by the Taliban, passing detailed warnings to his unit. Having received intelligence from other locals, Sayed accurately informed his unit of the details regarding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were planted by insurgents in the area so that they could be safely disposed of, without a single American casualty. On two separate occasions, Sayed was seriously injured when the ground vehicle he was riding in was struck by an IED.

Sayed first learned the bulk of his English in a 9-month crash course that he took specifically because he wanted to help. He has experienced first-hand the horrors of living under the rule of the Taliban, and saw the opportunity to work with American soldiers as his chance to make his homeland a safe place for his family to live. His second day on the job, Sayed found himself with a brand new unit pinned down by intense enemy fire. He had had no military training. No one had told him what it would be like to have bullets flying inches from his head. Terrified, he almost gave up, but a non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the unit he had known for barely 48 hours encouraged him to stick it out a little longer.

Sayed’s loyalty and dedication have never been about money. After six years of service, Sayed makes less money than an American worker would make at minimum wage working one day a week. Sayed is on the job every day. His salary is lower than the national average for Afghan workers.

As a direct result of his service to the Americans, Sayed’s life is in extreme danger. Sayed has been unable to return to his hometown for years because he will be recognized by Taliban members who have sworn to his family to murder him if they see him again. Members of his extended family have been beaten in their villages by local Taliban to intimidate them into giving away information regarding Sayed’s location so they can kidnap and murder him. A letter left for him in his hometown by the Taliban threatens his murder as revenge for the deaths of insurgents that the Taliban attributes to Sayed’s work with the Americans. As the U.S. draws down forces in Afghanistan, Sayed will soon find himself out of work, and therefore without protection.

In September 2013, Sayed applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). The SIV program was developed to help local nationals in Iraq and Afghanistan whose services to American forces have put their lives at extreme risk in their homeland. While Sayed is the ideal candidate for an SIV, the process is convoluted, lacking in any sort of transparency, and mired in bureaucracy. Countless Iraqi and Afghan interpreters have been murdered by anti-American insurgents as they spend years waiting for their visas to be approved. It is hard to bear the thought that my sweet friend could easily be one of them.

In addition to English, Sayed speaks Pashto, Dari and Urdu. He has a kind and generous heart, and is the most loyal person I have ever met. Quick with a joke even when his own situation is bleak, Sayed wants to give everything to his friends and family, regardless of whether or not he has anything to give.  He has numerous letters of recommendation from commissioned and non-commissioned officers that have served with him over the years praising his dedicated work supporting U.S. troops and recommending him for SIV approval. Upon arrival in the United States, Sayed would like to join the U.S. Army to continue to serve alongside the American brothers and sisters he has known for the past six years.

Time is running out to save my friend, who has sacrificed more for the United States than most Americans will have done in a lifetime. It is so difficult to describe in a few paragraphs this kind, brave soul, and all the selfless contributions he has made to support American forces. I ask you to please take a moment to sign this petition to help remind U.S. lawmakers of the promise they made to brave young Afghans like Sayed that came to our aid in our time of need in Afghanistan, and finally grant Sayed the visa he so overwhelmingly deserves.

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