January 29, 2023
Abdul Wasi Safi is a 27-year-old Afghan man who worked as an intelligence officer for Afghanistan’s National Security Forces until 2021, when he fled his home country following the withdrawal of US forces. Safi was a little boy when Afghanistan was liberated from the grip of Taliban in 2001 and he grew up to be an elite special forces commando trained by the US military.
When the last US flight left Kabul on Aug. 30, 2021, Safi lost hope of joining his brother Sami, who worked as a translator and moved to the US more than five years ago. He decided to take matters into his own hands and find a path all the way to the land of the free, only to end up in a jail cell in Houston, Texas, for illegally entering the US across the Mexican border.
On Sept. 30, Border Patrol apprehended Safi and charged him with a criminal misdemeanor for failure to present the necessary documents to remain in the US. According to The Texas Tribune, the former soldier faced up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if he pleaded guilty, which he refused to do. “Wasi did not want a criminal record starting his life over in the US — especially after his service in connection with the country,” the report read.
Fortunately, after months of publicity and a bipartisan congressional effort to free him, the charges were dropped last week and Safi was released to begin his asylum process.
While thousands of immigrants illegally cross the Mexican border every week and have the freedom to go anywhere they wish, the ones who were promised they would be able to accompany the US military and start a new life away from the Taliban’s death threats have struggled.
To help his brother, Sami launched a fundraising effort to pay his legal fees, while criticizing the White House for failing to fulfill its promises. He wrote: “When President (Joe) Biden withdrew American forces from Afghanistan, he pledged to leave no person behind. But many of those who risked their lives supporting American forces in the fight against the Taliban were abandoned. Abdul Wasi Safi was one of those forgotten and discarded.”
Safi’s cruel year-long journey from Afghanistan to the US border was life-threatening and exhausting.
Safi’s cruel year-long journey from Afghanistan to the US border was life-threatening and exhausting. He flew to Brazil, then made his way on foot and by bus through 10 countries and was robbed, tortured and beaten along the way.
In an interview with Fox News, Safi said he survived imminent death several times before reaching the US border. “The Panama police tortured me. In front of all people, they beat me. They called me a terrorist. Without any reason, they tortured me. I don’t know why,” he said.
If President Joe Biden was a Republican, the far left would have been all over the media calling him racist, Islamophobic or inhumane. However, Democratic politicians continue to defend the Afghanistan debacle and refuse to acknowledge the negative repercussions of how the White House tainted the country’s credibility and military reputation.
For an ordinary citizen to change his mind and break his promise is one thing, but for a superpower leader to break his promises is another thing. The consequences can be lethal, as the world witnessed during the Afghanistan withdrawal operation.
While Biden failed, the military and intelligence communities worked relentlessly to evacuate the men and women that had worked with them in Afghanistan for the past 20 years.
The Biden administration has several global challenges ahead and one should not expect a better outcome.
• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view
Categories: Afghanistan, America, American History, Americas, Asia, United States, USA
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