A former U.S. military translator was beheaded by the Taliban after being attacked outside Kabul recently. Sohail Pardis was reportedly dragged out of his vehicle on the outskirts of Kabul and beheaded by extremists. The incident was reportedly witnessed by villagers, who stood as mute spectators while Pardis was being shot and then beheaded.
The horrifying incident has sparked new alarm among interpreters fearing attacks as American forces pull out of Afghanistan. An increasing number of interpreters working for the U.S. military in Afghanistan have been requesting for relocation fearing their safety and security once the Western forces exit the battle-torn country.
According to his family members, Pardis, 32, was driving from his home in Kabul to nearby Khost province to pick up his sister for the upcoming Eid holiday celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan. During the five-hour long drive on May 12, as Pardis drove through a stretch of desert, when his vehicle was blocked at a checkpoint by Taliban militants.
He was then dragged from his vehicle after being shot as he tried to escape the militants. The incident happened in view of helpless villagers. Witnesses to the horrific incident are said to have detailed the entire incident to Red Crescent how Taliban shot his car before it swerved and stopped.
He was then dragged to the middle of the road and beheaded. According to a CNN report, just days before his killing, Pardis had confided in his friend that he was receiving death threats from the Taliban.
The threats came after the Taliban discovered that he had worked as a translator for the United States Army for 16 months during the 20-year-long conflict. "They were telling him you are a spy for the Americans, you are the eyes of the Americans and you are infidel, and we will kill you and your family," his friend and co-worker Abdulhaq Ayoubi told CNN.
Did U.S. Disown Pardis?
Pardis, the father of a nine-year-old daughter, had applied to be relocated on security grounds to America. However, that didn't happen. His application was reportedly rejected because he had been dismissed having been terminated in 2012 after failing a routine polygraph, or lie detector, test.
It is not known what led to the polygraph test and why he failed. The screenings were conducted through a contracted company by the U.S. military. Hundreds of translators failed the tests at that time but most claim that there were issues with the questions asked and they did not believe them to be reliable.
Those who failed the test claim that their contracts were terminated for what they say was unjust cause. Even the U.S. government at that time said that it won't be reviewing the cases.
Following President Joe Biden's announcement that U.S. troops would pull out of Afghanistan in 2021, around 18,000 Afghans who worked for the US military applied for a Special Immigrant Visa program that would allow them to relocate to the United States.
Previously, the Biden administration said it was in talks with a number of countries to act as safe havens until the United States can complete the long visa process, a clear sign the government is well aware of the looming threat posed by the Taliban.
A US Embassy spokesperson in Kabul said they are "actively working on every possible contingency to make sure that we can help those who have helped us."
"To be clear, our embassy in Kabul will continue to operate after our forces draw down. SIV processing will continue, including for those individuals who remain in Afghanistan, and we will continue to surge resources to process applications to the fullest extent possible," a spokesperson said.
However, that does not seem to be the case. Pardis had long been trying to relocate to the United States but was not able to qualify for the Special Immigrant Visa because of his termination.
In a statement issued in June, the Taliban said it would not harm those who worked alongside foreign forces. A Taliban spokesperson told CNN that they were trying to verify the details of the incident but said some incidents are not what they are portrayed to be, referring to Pardis' killing.
Pardis' little girl is now being taken care of by his brother, Najibulla Sahak. His family had to leave Kabul fearing their safety and the possibility they could be targeted next. "I'm so worried about the safety of my family. There's not much work in this country, and the security situation is very bad," Sahak said.