RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – For 11 years, Samsoor served as an interpreter for U.S. and international forces in his home country of Afghanistan all while facing death threats from the Taliban.
He is now a Virginia resident and recalls that time with pride.
“I was part of a team. Going with the soldiers, whatever they were doing. Becoming an interpreter is not just only to translate. You are accepting all those threats,” Samsoor said in a recent interview. “I never hesitate anything because I was part of a big mission. Rebuilding the country.”
Samsoor, who asked 8News to only use his first name due to safety reasons, emigrated to the U.S. in 2017 with his wife and children after receiving a special immigrant visa, an effort Samsoor said took several years.
After two decades of war, U.S. troops are withdrawing and Afghanistan is once again under Taliban rule. For Samsoor, like so many Afghans around the world struggling with this reality, his concern lies with family who still live in his home country.
“I need to get my family out. My family is in danger. It’s not safe for them,” Samsoor said. “It’s not important that I have to bring them over to the United States. I need to get them somewhere out of that country.”
He told 8News his brother is in hiding after being beaten and stabbed multiple times in the stomach by Taliban members. Samsoor claimed his late father’s service in the Afghan military led to the attack on his brother.
His brother, who Samsoor said is a doctor, asked friends for help after the attack instead of seeking treatment at a public hospital over fear of his safety at the hospital. Samsoor added that his brother-in-law, who he claimed is also a former interpreter, is also in hiding as he seeks a way out of Afghanistan.
WARNING: Video shows Samsoor’s brother, bloodied and disorientated, after the attack
In an effort to get family members out of the country, Samsoor has been reaching out to people he served with as an interpreter for support. An infantry platoon leader who worked with Samsoor from 2008 to 2009 while stationed in Khost Province, Afghanistan, praised Samsoor’s bravery and “allegiance” in a letter shared with 8News.
“He’s [Samsoor] done a great service to our country, and I pray we might return his sacrifice with service of our own,” the letter reads.
Samsoor has reached out to the State Department and Sen. Tim Kaine’s office in his quest for help. So far, he says Kaine’s office has informed him that they have sent over his information to the State Department.
He fears for the safety of about 15 family members, including children, still in Afghanistan, and he believes his work assisting U.S. forces and his family background puts them in danger of retaliation from the Taliban.
Samsoor’s family, sadly, are among the thousands of people trying to evacuate Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden says the U.S. has helped get more than 70,000 people out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14, but thousands of Americans, Afghan allies and other foreign nationals remain as Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops approaches. A Taliban spokesman has said they will respect the deadline but will not allow Afghans out on evacuation flights after it passes and extending the deadline would “provoke a reaction.”
On Thursday, five days from the withdrawal deadline, a suicide attack was reported outside Kabul’s airport after U.S. officials warned of a potential security threat. The total number of casualties is unclear and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Acknowledging the dangers of getting people out amid the scramble, Samsoor says he just doesn’t want his family to be “left behind.”
“I’m just trying to get my voice reached out to all American people, to all my friends, not to leave their friends right now in this situation, especially their family members. So, I’m requesting support or help so we can start and just get my family,” he said.
“It’s not only about me. I mean, a lot of other people that worked for the military probably have the same problem. So, I hope it helps and I find a way to get my family out to safety.”