By Kate Powell
Source: RESOLUTE SUPPORT/DVIDS
Naiem Asadi, an Afghan citizen and former pilot, fought with the United States military in the ongoing war in Afghanistan under the belief that he and his family would be granted asylum in the United States. But like thousands of other Afghans and Iraqis who served with the United States, Asadi has yet to be allowed across America’s border. Instead, he is hiding in an undisclosed location with his family in the hopes that they will be safe from the Taliban.
Naiem Asadi has been a pilot for several years, and he began fighting beside American soldiers in 2015. The current effort by the Afghan government and the United States is to eliminate the Taliban, an extremist group responsible for banning girls from education, destroying religious symbols and statues, and the slaughter of thousands of Afghan civilians. In 2018, Asadi was acknowledged by NATO for his success on a mission, his bravery becoming the focus of a video sent throughout Afghanistan.
But it was following his success that Asadi says the threats began. “…My father received a call from the Taliban. They threatened him and said: ‘We know your son is a military pilot. You should hand him over to us.’” On October 5th, 2020, Asadi was granted refuge in the United States by the Pentagon. On October 28th, Asadi and his family prepared to obtain their travel documents at the United States Embassy in Afghanistan, but only hours before their appointment, he was notified that the documents had been put on hold. Days later, Naiem Asadi discovered that the Pentagon had dropped the agreement completely.
Currently, Asadi is applying for a Significant Public Benefit Parole, which would allow him to reside in the U.S. for the short-term. But Asadi’s story is eerily similar to those of other Afghan and Iraqis soldiers who served with the United States; thousands are stuck waiting for visas, a delayed process that has them fearing for their lives. According to Afghan officials, 20,000 Afghan soldiers, at minimum, have been victims of targeted murders in the last two years. The Biden Administration stated in early February that these visas, known as Special Immigration Visas, should be “administered without undue delay.” Whether the new administration will speed up the process is yet to be determined, but with the lives of so many on the line, it’s doubtful that all of them will survive the wait.