UK's top translator in Kabul is FINALLY given asylum

UK’s top translator in Kabul is FINALLY given asylum as government is shamed into action after he was denied sanctuary despite being shot and ambushed by the Taliban

  • Interpreter Farid, 37, was refused sanctuary in UK three weeks after being shot
  • He was hit once in the arm and narrowly escaped with his life as gunman fired
  • Farid escaped by slamming his car into reverse as blood poured from his wound
  • He learned his sanctuary plea was rejected as he recovered from a bullet wound
  • This decision has now reportedly been reversed, and Farid – along with his 20 colleagues and their families – will be given sanctuary in Britain

The senior interpreter at the British embassy in Kabul – along with his 20 colleagues – has finally been given asylum by the government after he was denied sanctuary despite being shot and ambushed by the Taliban, according to reports.

Farid, a veteran of 17 years working with UK diplomats and soldiers, was initially refused sanctuary in the UK just three weeks after being attacked.

The 37-year-old escaped by slamming his car into reverse as blood poured from his wound, speeding backwards until he was safely behind a wall and Afghan parliament security forces appeared.

That chilling attack happened while British officials were considering Farid’s application for relocation to the UK because, as the ‘face of the embassy’, he feared for his and his family’s lives.

Despite informing the embassy of the attack, three weeks later he received a rejection letter from the UK saying he and his 20 colleagues were ineligible for sanctuary in the UK.

Finally, according to The Times, the Foreign Office has said Farid along with his 20 colleagues and their families will be allowed into Britain. 

The newspaper reported that government sources said the reversal came after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had been told about the rejection. However, the interpreters are yet to receive any official confirmation, The Times said. 

Farid (pictured), a veteran of 17 years working with UK diplomats and soldiers, was hit once in the arm and narrowly escaped with his life as a gunman fired from just one metre away

Farid said he learned that his initial plea for sanctuary had been rejected as he recovered from the bullet which smashed into his left arm.

‘I was so very shocked and disappointed to be told that my case had been rejected when the threat and danger to me was so obvious,’ the father of six said. 

‘I am often the face of the embassy, the first person people going to security at the embassy must see so I know that I must be a target.’

Recalling the chilling attack, Farid said: ‘It was very frightening and I was lucky to escape without the other bullets killing me. 

‘I have no doubt that I was targeted. I was driving home when three men from a black car shouted for me to stop. One was holding a phone, I think with my picture on, because he said, ‘That’s him’.

‘One of the men came out and had an AK-47 and started shooting at me, four or five times. A bullet hit me in the left arm, there was great pain and blood poured out. I thought, ‘He’s killing me’.’

He added: ‘I put my car into reverse and pushed the pedal hard to go backwards. My window glass had smashed in with the bullet impact and I tried to remain low away from bullets.

The 37-year-old escaped by slamming his car into reverse as blood poured from his wound, speeding backwards until he was safely behind a wall. Pictured: The bullet hole in his car

The chilling attack (pictured: his wounds) happened while British officials were considering Farid’s application for relocation to the UK because he feared for his and his family’s lives

‘I waited for 15 minutes, going to the back seat as it was easier to hide and rest my arm. I then went to hospital. They operated that night. I am sure I was a target because of my work at the embassy. My face is widely known.’

With an emboldened Taliban making sweeping gains across Afghanistan and carrying out revenge attacks, the ambush shortly after 9.30pm on June 20 sent shockwaves among embassy interpreters, who fear they will also be targets.

Farid is among 21 translators currently working at the embassy who saw their applications for sanctuary in the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Programme (ARAP) rejected, as they are employed through private subcontractors. 

Their role is high-profile, often on the embassy’s front gate, meeting visitors and translating for diplomats and the military. 

Ironically, they play a pivotal role in the administration of ARAP, working with former military interpreters, their families and other at-risk Afghans on their cases.

More than 40 British military chiefs joined in a plea to the Prime Minister earlier this week to relax guidelines for which translators can resettle under ARAP, after more than 500 workers including 130 translators were turned down. 

They also criticised long delays in reaching decisions. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is understood to be considering loosening the rules. One proposal could involve flying applicants to the UK to be assessed here.

Farid said he first applied for relocation on security grounds on May 3. But when he heard nothing, he re-applied on June 15. UK officials asked for documents, which he submitted. 

But he received an email saying his case had been rejected on July 13, three weeks after the attack. 

The Mail’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign has highlighted how interpreters not directly employed by the UK, including those who worked with Special Forces, have had their cases turned down.

Farid learned that his plea for sanctuary had been rejected as he recovered from the bullet which smashed into his left arm (pictured) 

They accuse the Government of ‘abandoning’ them. A dozen men who worked with the SAS and SBS are currently waiting to hear if they can relocate. The decision is said to be ‘with ministers’.

Farid said: ‘When I heard about ARAP I was optimistic that we would be included because of our work and profile but all of us were denied visas. 

‘We hear the cases each day of people who have been accepted and our current profile is far greater. My wife worries every time I go out, we are afraid our children (four girls and two boys) will be kidnapped.

‘The Taliban want me dead, I am a very well-known face, they know me and know my name. I honestly believe that next time they will behead me.’

At least seven former Coalition translators have been murdered this year, with the most recent reportedly beheaded after being caught in a Taliban roadblock. 

Farid said: ‘I very much respect those I work with and have worked with but I am afraid to remain in Afghanistan.’ 

Farid’s concerns are echoed by his colleagues. Mataachi, 30, a father of one who has worked at the embassy for over four years, was also rejected under ARAP.

He said: ‘Here we help others to escape, we are enrolling hundreds of other guys in the scheme, but we are being told ‘no’.’

While ARAP requires an Afghan to have been directly employed by the UK Government, officials have the power of ‘discretion’ in cases with exceptional circumstances 


Recalling the attack, Farid said: ‘It was very frightening and I was lucky to escape without the other bullets killing me. I have no doubt that I was targeted.’ Pictured left and right: Bullet holes and blood stained seats after the attack

Some 12 translators employed through a contractor working with troops in Kabul have been granted sanctuary after their cases were highlighted by the Mail’s campaign.

The plight of those employed through subcontractors was one of the issues in the letter to Boris Johnson, which warned that Britain faces ‘dishonour’ if those who served are left to be murdered by the Taliban. 

It was coordinated by the Sulha Alliance, campaigning for translators and other Afghan workers. 

Founding member Sara de Jong said: ‘We were dismayed to find out that the long-serving British embassy interpreters are excluded from the resettlement scheme, because they are subcontracted.

‘Not only do they work on behalf of the British state, they are extremely exposed as their job requires them to move outside the gates of the embassy compound.

‘The compelling case of the embassy interpreters illustrates the wider structural injustices that result from the UK Government trying to absolve itself of responsibility for its Afghan staff by using third party contractors.’

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