An Afghan air force major under US protection at a US base in Afghanistan--with his family--who was originally promised asylum in the US, says he has now been told he will have to leave the US base if he does not rejoin the Afghan air force, Stars and Stripes reported.
Maj. Mohammed Naiem Asadi, one of the Afghan military’s attack helicopter pilots, his wife, and his 4-year-old daughter had been approved to seek refuge in America in early October due to being in “imminent danger of being killed by the Taliban,” Stars and Stripes reported, citing documents and emails.
The Pentagon, which had endorsed Asadi’s bid to come to America, changed its decision and withdrew its endorsement in early November, the report said.
The dilemma, for the pilot and his family, is that the Afghan government has threatened to jail pilots in the past for attempting to gain asylum in other countries, said Kimberly Motley, Asadi’s lawyer, according to the report.
Motley represented another Afghan pilot, Niloofar Rahmani, who received asylum in America in 2016 after receiving death threats from the Taliban, said Stars and Stripes.
In a letter to US officials, Motley stated she is "extremely concerned" the major will be imprisoned and separated from his family if he is turned over to the Afghan government.
For the last month, the 32-year-old Asadi and his family have been living under US military protection.
But US and Afghan military officers Sunday afternoon told Asadi that if he does not rejoin the Afghan air force, he will be forced to leave the base, Asadi said, said the report.
US Forces-Afghanistan and NATO Resolute Support referred comment to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which did not immediately reply to an email inquiry and a phone call, Stars and Stripes reported.
Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman of the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the ministry wants to provide safety for Asadi, however, Asadi fears that the government will not provide adequate security for his family, especially amid the wave of targeted killings by the Taliban.
Asadi, according to Afghan and US military sources cited by Stars and Stripes, has killed more Taliban than any other pilot in the Afghan air force. He was also responsible for protecting a downed US pilot by scrambling his attack helicopter, along with a second Afghan chopper, to protect the crash site.