This weekend, IRAP published an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, which conveys the story of an Iraqi client currently stranded in Iraq, from the client’s perspective. The piece is extremely compelling, and offers direct insight into the experiences of America’s allies currently living in danger in Iraq.
With a Wall Street Journal subscription, you can read the full piece here; we’ve also excerpted the client narrative below. Please share this powerful story with others in your networks.
“They say I belong to a family of traitors.
I am one of seven brothers. All of us served as interpreters for U.S. troops in the Iraq War over the past decade. We did so faithfully, willingly and proudly.
Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who brutally oppressed my country. We could not speak out against him or his Ba’ath party because we would be jailed or killed. As interpreters, our mouths finally opened. We were speaking up for the future.
I wanted Iraq to be a truly free and tolerant nation, so I knew that I had to participate in the American mission—despite the many life-endangering risks.
In 2006, I joined two of my brothers, who were already serving as interpreters for the U.S. Army, at Camp Taji. Over the next four years, I went on hundreds of missions with U.S. troops to some of the most dangerous areas in the country.
I was the voice of my unit. Not only did I interpret what soldiers and civilians were saying, I also communicated tone, accent, credibility and trustworthiness. I took my duties with the utmost seriousness, because American men and women in uniform trusted me with their lives.
Even with all the precautions we took, I knew that each mission I went on could be my last. Every time I traveled, I silently prayed for the safety of my own brothers by blood, and my new American ones. I was going into cities filled with snipers and improvised-explosive devices. I did not know if I would return to the base in a casket. The smell of death lingered on my clothes after every mission.
In the summer of 2007, my younger brother, whose code name was ‘Eagle,’ and four American soldiers, were killed while riding in a Humvee north of Baghdad. A terrorist threw an IED at their vehicle. The five died instantly. When my commanding officer told me, I felt overtaken by madness. It turned into an unrelenting sorrow.
My mother begged me and my brothers to stop working with the U.S. We did not.
Instead, the rest of my brothers signed up as interpreters—all of them wanting to honor the memory of Eagle and save Iraq from the militias.
My life is now in grave danger due to my service to the U.S. Army. I have survived two car bombs near my home. I have received phone calls and text messages from unknown numbers threatening to put a bullet through my head. One of my brothers was brutally beaten by militiamen. He survived only because the militiamen said they wanted to kill all of us brothers—’a family of traitors’—together.
I have three young children whom I cannot send to school regularly because they may be kidnapped or killed. My wife and I leave the house only to get essential items. I have no stable source of income and cannot reveal my work history to potential employers.
I was not killed on the battlefield, but I am not alive in the country that I love. I exist in a middle world between death and life.
In 2009, I applied for a Special Immigrant Visa, which would allow me to live in safety in the U.S. Over five years later, the U.S. government has still not decided on my visa application.
Each day that I wait brings me closer to a terrorist group like Islamic State finding and killing me. I pray that my visa will be granted before it is too late.”