Contractors worried as US troop levels are down

KABUL (Tolo News): Afghans who have worked with US forces in Afghanistan as contractors said their lives will be in danger after the American troops leave the country within the next few months. A report by Stars and Stripes in January shows that at least 18,000 contractors will remain Afghanistan after the US forces leave the country. The report says that the Pentagon employs over seven contractors for every US service member in the country.

Talking to TOLOnews, many contractors who worked with US military in various provinces called on President Joe Biden’s administration to take them out of Afghanistan and provide the ground for their asylum in European countries or in the US. Some of the contractors said they have been repeatedly threatened by the Taliban and that they have lost their family members in this way.

Mohammad Arif Ahmadzai, one of the contractors, said he has worked with US forces over the last 10 years in at least 15 provinces. He said he has been threatened to death by the Taliban over a dozen times. “What will be our fate? Obviously, death,” Ahmadzai said. “We will face tough conditions if we are not taken out of the country.”

Omid Mahmoodi, another contractor, said he worked with US forces for three years and left the job four months ago. He said he feels closer to heavy threats than the past as the US troops are withdrawing. “They (foreign forces) are not handing advanced equipment to Afghanistan’s military. The US fears that they might fall into the hand of government’s opposition in that case,” Mahmoodi said.

The contractors, whose number was at least 50 and came together at a place in Kabul, said there is a need for the United States government to pay attention to the threats they are faced with or they will be faced going forward.

“These individuals should be given safe shelter. They deserve special visa. It is their right,” said Shirin Agha Jafari, an Afghan national who has worked as an interpreter with US forces in Afghanistan.

“We are at this situation right now even as US and NATO forces are here. Think about the time when they leave. What will come to us?” asked Wais Noori, an Afghan who has worked as an interpreter with US forces. Some of the contractors showed documents and claimed they are warning letters they have received from the Taliban.

“We should hold a gathering of over 3,000 people outside the US embassy so that we can achieve our right,” said Reshad Ahmadi, a contractor. This comes as Biden announced to withdraw all his troops from Afghanistan by September 11. US officials have said that the withdrawal will begin on May 1.