It’s been years since Haji and his wife have had a good night’s sleep.
“All night, my wife wakes up,” says Haji. “She’s scared. If [she hears] somebody is coming, she calls me, ‘Haji, someone is coming!’”
His wife says the first thing she does is hide the children.
“Then I get up and go to the door to see what is going on. If there are Taliban, I tell them no one is at home,” she says.
Haji’s English has become tentative since CNN first met him 10 years ago, during an embed with the US Marine Corps in Afghanistan. But his message cuts through the telephone static loud and clear: “If [the Taliban] find me, they will kill me and they will kill my family because I was an interpreter with the US Marines.”
The danger Haji and his family face grows every day as the Taliban claims more territory across the country, yet his repeated efforts to reach safety through a US visa program for interpreters keep hitting a brick wall, despite support from a half dozen US Marines.
Haji was what you might call a “combat interpreter.” Stationed in Helmand province – the heart of the insurgency – he lived and patrolled with the Marines and Army, translating as they searched vehicles, talked to locals and interviewed suspected Taliban members.
He has been paying for his loyalty to the US ever since. He and his family have been in hiding for five years, scared for their lives – his fear of retribution compounded with news of every province that falls into Taliban hands.
CNN has spoken to many linguists who say their lives remain under threat as the insurgents launch revenge attacks following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed by the end of August.
Read Haji’s full story here: