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‘They beat me up and stole my documents’: Afghan interpreter who helped UK troops tells of bid to escape the Taliban

Written by on 18/08/2021

A former Afghan interpreter for British troops was beaten up by the Taliban and had his documents taken away just metres from UK forces at Kabul airport.

Faiz told Sky News about his situation from the back of the airport, where he has been with his wife, sister and four young children since Sunday night when the Taliban took Kabul.

We have decided not to publish his full name for his safety.

This is his story.

The Taliban destroyed the family's home in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan
Image: The Taliban destroyed the family’s home in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan

The Taliban attacked Kunduz on 8 August, firing rocket-propelled grenades and SPG9s (rocket-assisted Soviet recoilless guns) – they destroyed our house.

My family and I managed to get out before, moving to a village to hide from the Taliban where we spent a week, but then we were in danger again so we moved to Kabul.

We didn’t have anywhere to stay in Kabul, so we spent our time outside in the hot sunshine. There’s me, I’m 31, my wife, my sister and four children, two girls aged six and five, a boy aged three, and another girl who is one.

When Kabul collapsed to the Taliban on Sunday, I went to ask for help from the British embassy as I was an interpreter for the British forces from 2009 to 2014. I stopped working there to train to become a dentist and I qualified this year.

But they had moved out by then and I was told to go to Kabul airport as embassy staff would be there to help.

We went there with other families who were forced to flee their houses because of the Taliban but we couldn’t reach the British forces command as the Taliban won’t let us go over there to talk to them.

Faiz has certificates from the British Forces showing their appreciation for his work
Image: Faiz has certificates from the British Forces showing their appreciation for his work

I know that if I can get to them, the British will help me out because I was an interpreter for them and was awarded for my service.

But the Taliban have been firing over us and last night they beat me and my wife up, they whipped us with plastic. They were beating people like animals, even females and kids.

They also took my documents, including my passport, and forced us out of the building, so we’re now at the back of the airport in the heat.

There is no safety here and I don’t have much money now. I’m very worried about my life, my future, my family’s life.

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Afghanistan: Chaos at Kabul airport

I’ve been in contact with other interpreters and keep emailing local staff at the embassy but nobody’s answering, nobody is there to help.

In 2014, I was recommended for asylum in the UK after serving with three different British Forces groups, including at the hospital, from Camp Bastion due to the threat from the Taliban.

We paid a trafficker to take us through Iran to the Turkish border but when we got there they fired at us and we couldn’t get through so we had to come all the way back to Kabul.

There was no work in Kabul so we had to move to Kunduz.

A man pulls a girl up a wall to get inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Image: A man pulls a girl up a wall to get inside the airport

Then in 2017, the Taliban captured my brother and I negotiated for four days with the elders to release him – they gave me his body back and I could hardly recognise him.

I have a letter from the British Forces saying how I helped them and also how I received death threats from the Taliban as they knew I was working for them.

So, if I can get to them I’m sure they will help but the Taliban won’t let me.

I am a trained dentist so also have a lot to offer the UK, I just hope they can help me as I don’t know what to do now, there is nothing for me in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

As told to Alix Culbertson, news reporter

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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