What a disgrace! Ex-major general blasts treatment of Afghan translators – as one terrified hero begs: Please save my family
- Afghan translator Habib said a Taliban gunman arrived at his front door in Kabul
- Former British commander branded treatment of some interpreters ‘a disgrace’
- Major General Charlie Herbert said more had to be given sanctuary and quickly
A former interpreter for UK Special Forces has begged Britain to rescue his family after Taliban gunmen knocked on his front door in Kabul.
The Afghan translator, Habib, said his family was saved only by the quick thinking of his 11-year-old daughter, who refused to let in the militants despite them posing as his friends.
After learning of last week’s ordeal, a former British commander in Afghanistan branded the treatment of some ex-military interpreters ‘a disgrace’.
British soldier with former Afghan interpreter Habib, who is waiting to hear if he will be granted sanctuary in the UK. He worked on a Task Force of UK and Afghan Special Forces and is now facing death threats. Habib has twice escaped ambushes
In scathing criticism of the Ministry of Defence, Major General Charlie Herbert said more had to be given sanctuary – and quickly – as those who risked their lives beside UK troops are on ‘borrowed time’ and face death threats.
Commenting on the UK’s decision to pull out of the country after 20 years, along with the US, he said: ‘Leaving Afghanistan without a political settlement is ill-judged, but leaving without our former interpreters and locally employed staff is immoral.’
He said the Ministry of Defence must not leave behind the ‘remarkable Afghan locals who served us so brilliantly, and often with such sacrifice’.
Outspoken criticism from a former senior officer with considerable experience of Afghanistan is rare.
Mr Herbert has personally been trying to help Habib, who worked for UK forces for 16 months. The ex-translator, who has another daughter aged 14, said: ‘I feared they would break down the door and kill us. It was the Taliban, two men armed with AK47s…
‘If the British do not act quickly and rescue us, the Taliban will carry out their threats to send me and my daughters to hell.
‘They only hunt me because of my work for the British.’
The 39-year-old, who worked with the ‘Triple Four’ elite task force at Camp Juno in Helmand, is among a dozen translators for the unit waiting to hear if they will be allowed sanctuary in Britain.
They were previously told they did not qualify because, unlike most Afghan interpreters, they were not employed by the British government but directly by UK Special Forces. Two weeks ago, Bashir, 33, one of Habib’s ex-colleagues, survived an assassination attempt after finding a bomb under his vehicle. At least five ex-translators have been murdered by insurgents this year, and more than a dozen have survived attacks.
The Daily Mail’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign has highlighted the stories of several translators from Camp Juno, who fear they will be left behind despite being involved in some of the most dangerous operations of the time.
The cases are being examined again under changes introduced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, but Habib and his colleagues fear time is running out, with the Taliban making sweeping gains.
In scathing criticism of the Ministry of Defence, Major General Charlie Herbert, pictured, said more had to be given sanctuary – and quickly – as those who risked their lives beside UK troops are on ‘borrowed time’ and face death threats
Praising the Mail’s campaign, Mr Herbert, a former Nato adviser in Afghanistan, said: ‘Failure to relocate Habib and his colleagues will almost certainly result in their tragic and needless deaths.’
A spokesman for the Government, which is expected to give sanctuary to 3,500 Afghans, said: ‘We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Afghan locally employed staff who risked their lives working alongside UK forces…
‘We have so far relocated over 1,500 locally employed Afghan staff and their families to the UK, with thousands more to follow in the coming months. Each application is considered on a case by case basis and handled sympathetically.’
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