An Afghan interpreter saved Matthew Zeller’s life when he was serving as a captain in the army in Afghanistan – now Zeller is calling on President Joe Biden to act quickly and help remove the interpreters and their families from Afghanistan before they leave the Taliban to be killed.
“Crimes against humanity are committed and broadcast live for the world to see,” said the co-founder of No One Left Behind, an organization that helps obtain special visas for interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Her blood will be on our hands if we don’t take care of her now. We have to do that, it’s a ‘never again’ moment, ”Zeller told CNBC on Friday.
President Biden has set a September 11 deadline for all troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. That requires an 85-day clock to get interpreters safely out of the country, said Zeller. The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Zeller told CNBC The News with Shepard Smith that there was a historical precedent for a mass evacuation in this direction. He said the US evacuated tens of thousands of civilians from war zones after the Vietnam War and in the late 1990s.
“We have a pretty good history of keeping our promise when asked,” he said.
In September 2019, around 18,000 Afghans are waiting for special immigrant visas. It takes an average of 996 days for the State Department to process each one.
Zeller told host Shepard Smith that the US military’s mission in Afghanistan would not have been possible without an interpreter.
“The Taliban used to shoot them first in firefights because they understood how important they were to our efforts,” said Zeller. “Besides our weapons, they were the most important asset on the battlefield.”