The decade's most triggering comedy
The Biden administration program to bring Afghan refugees to the U.S. was popularly marketed as being for interpreters who had helped American forces, but the program was later expanded to explicitly permit former Taliban employees, according to a new government report.
In June, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State announced “new exemptions” including for “individuals who worked as civil servants under the Taliban” and “individuals who provided only certain limited material support to the Taliban or other designated terrorist organizations,” according to a new joint DHS, DOS, and USAID Inspector General report that cited correspondence with the Department of State.
A statement from DHS that month said that the change will “ensure that individuals who have lived under Taliban rule, such as former civil servants, those required to pay service fees to the Taliban to do things like pass through a checkpoint or obtain a passport, and those who fought against the Taliban are not mistakenly barred because of overly broad applications of terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) in our immigration law.”
“The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General, exercised their congressionally provided discretionary authority to create three new exemptions, which can be applied on a case-by-case basis,” it said.
“This exemption does not include individuals who held high-level positions, worked for certain ministries, or directly assisted violent Taliban activities or activities in which the individual’s civil service was motivated by an allegiance to the Taliban,” it added.
A Department of State spokesperson told The Daily Wire that “The Afghan applicants this action is meant to protect include, but are not limited to, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, allies of the U.S. government, and others unable to avoid interacting with the Taliban or other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. It is important to note that this is not an automatic exemption, but rather may be applied after a careful review on a case-by-case basis.”
The Taliban is still largely the same entity that entered the consciousness of Americans not long after September 11, 2001. The inspector general audit reported “little discernible change in the behavior of the Taliban’s members, many of whom were part of the Taliban movement that was deposed in 2001. During the quarter, the Taliban likely appointed no new Haqqani Network-affiliated officials to senior positions within its interim government, according to the DIA. As of June, Haqqani Network affiliated individuals, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Khalil Rahman Haqqani, and Haji Mali Khan, maintained their existing positions in the Taliban’s interim government. The Haqqani Network is a DoS-designated foreign terrorist organization that is closely affiliated with the Taliban.”
Not long after the U.S. effort in Afghanistan ended in spectacular collapse one year ago, critics raised eyebrows about whether the tens of thousands being brought in amidst chaos could all be “interpreters, drivers and others who worked with American forces, as well as their family members,” as the New York Times described an initial group of would-be asylees.
Between August 17 and August 31, 2021, 23,000 Afghans described as “allies and family members” were brought to the U.S., but as of October 2021, hundreds of Americans were still stranded in Afghanistan, according to the State Department.
More than 4,300 Afghan refugees passed through a Loudoun County, Virginia, site next to a high school. Loudoun described the group as including “interpreters” — yet the facility also said it was teaching them English, and the sheriff said only 30% spoke the language.
The group has continued to be characterized by its most-sympathetic subcomponent, with The Dispatch this month referring to the asylum-seekers as including “translators and other allies who assisted American and coalition troops.”
Even if the program had been limited to “interpreters,” the report also suggests problems with the vetting of that category. It says that the government in recent years had “identified a fraud scheme related to a $1.4 billion DoD contract to provide interpreters and translators supporting U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan.” A D.C. judge sentenced one such employee to one year of probation and a $100 fine, while a judge dismissed other cases — which involved having fluent people stand in for applicants in order to fake the results of language tests — for a procedural reason.
By February 2022, at least four Afghan refugees had been accused of sexual assault in the U.S, according to Front Page Magazine. One was convicted of sexually assaulting a three-year-old child at Quantico Marine Corps Base.
In October 2021, the New York Times published an inspiring portrait of the hero interpreters being evacuated. Chief among them was Matiullah Matie, who the Times pictured and documented coming to America with his six children. Matie was presumably among the most heavily-vetted translators, serving as a “fixer” for Lt. General Lawrence Nicholson, according to the Times.
“Reached Philadelphia airport safely thanks to my American brothers and sisters who helped me,” it quoted Matie as saying. Matie was settled in Wisconsin on December 29, 2021.
By February 2, Wausau Police said “a victim reported she was assaulted by Matie while in a vehicle on Wausau’s northeast side. The victim was identified as an acquaintance and was assisting Matie and his family in refugee resettlement. Court documents state Matie forcibly kissed the woman and inappropriately touched her,” according to local news outlet WSAW, which had previously profiled him positively.
In July, the charges against Matie were dropped.
This week, Dawood Nazim Shah, who was resettled to Brattleboro, Vermont, in January 2022, was recently charged with attempted sexual assault after allegedly luring a woman to his home, grabbing her breasts, and forcing himself on top of her.
Refugee advocates pushed for him to be released from jail, calling him a “kind and gentle person,” according to the local news.
The news said he had “very limited knowledge of English,” making it unlikely that he was an interpreter.
This is Part 1 of a series examining the Afghanistan withdrawal one year later. Part 2 is here: Military Base Housing Afghan Refugees Became Covered In Feces And Displaced U.S. Soldiers, Employee Says