VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach man, a native of Afghanistan, is living in fear as he watches his homeland fall into chaos with his family stuck and in danger.
The man, referred to as Naz for the safety of him and his family, is speaking exclusively to 10 On Your Side about the situation he and his family face.
“It’s real, it’s happening. It’s not a movie. It’s not just a fictional story,” he said.
Naz, now a naturalized US citizen, was born in Afghanistan and felt education was key to his country’s freedom.
It’s what motivated him to serve as a translator for the U.S. Army and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led forces in 2009.
“I went to provinces trying to educate people about elections on how they can elect their own people and how no one can force their government on them,” he said.
During that time, he met his wife, an Air Force veteran who was serving as a U.S. intelligence agent.
They married months later and moved to Virginia Beach in 2015, where they’ve lived ever since. His entire family, however, still lives in Afghanistan.
His family has had a hand at trying to help change his home country for years, starting with his grandfather.
Sadly, it came at a price.
“The very first [time] when [the] Taliban entered, he was taken away and until today, we haven’t found his body. We haven’t found him. We don’t know where they take him,” said Naz. “He disappeared.”
His grandfather’s disappearance, however, didn’t deter him or his other family members because the world was on their side.
Not only did Naz work with the US government, but his father and uncle also worked for the former Afghan government.
But now with the world gone, they’re at a great risk under Taliban control.
He says that the Taliban is now targeting people who have worked with the U.S., their allies and the Afghan government.
Neighbors say that he and his family are well known within their village as being pro-U.S. and critical of Taliban rule. They are also supporters of women’s rights and education.
“They will kill them,” he said. “There’s no court, there’s no judge, there’s no proof to be needed. If the rumors are that you have been involved somehow or your family has been involved somehow, they’re going to make an example of you.”
After working as a translator for over 10 years, his uncle now has a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), but cannot get to the Kabul airport due to Taliban checkpoints.
“So you have to carry these documents with you through these checkpoints, which is technically a weapon you’re handing to the Taliban to kill you,” he said.
They’ve contacted Virginia senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as well as Representative Elaine Luria for help.
They’ve been told their request has been sent to the State Department.
Now, all he can do is wait and pray.
“If it was your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your family. If it was your family, what if it happened to you?” asked Naz. “What if some day, someone knock on the door, take out the males of their houses, murder them and then take the women?”
Naz started his own business in Hampton Roads since moving to Virginia at the end of 2015.
His family members in the U.S. have started a petition to raise awareness to the issues he and other Afghan-Americans are experiencing.
Learn more about that petition here.