President Joe Biden ordered troops in Afghanistan to return home by September.
Why does a man from North Carolina promise to continue his work there?
David Zucchino, winner earlier this month of a Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy”, lives in Durham. He plans to continue working in Afghanistan “until the end”.
Zucchino, a former Raleigh News and Observer and Los Angles Times reporter, currently writes about Afghanistan for the New York Times.
He explains: “I am fascinated by the place. I have been going there for 20 years and we are at a really pivotal time in Afghanistan. I was there for the end of the invasion and I have been back and forth I don’t know how many times since. I know a lot of people there, I’ve been to a lot of places there and I really care about the country. I want to be there when the going, and later this year I think we’re going to see some big changes. “
In a May 6 article in The Times, Zucchino summed up 20 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, concluding: “A combat mission that has occupied four presidents – who have counted with US casualties, a ruthless enemy and a government. Afghan often corrupt and confusing. partner – finally comes to an end.
An end, but not yet an end, as Zucchino explained in two Times articles earlier this month.
In a June 5 article, Zucchino tells the story of Afghan Air Force Major Naiem Assadi who hid with his wife and five-year-old daughter for seven months. The Taliban threatened him, posting his photo online with instructions: “Find him and kill him.”
After being initially rejected on an application for permission to enter the United States, Assadi was granted “humanitarian parole” by the United States citizenship and immigration services. Assadi and his family moved safely to the United States with the help of Kimberley Motley, a North Carolina-based human rights lawyer.
But his story raises questions about other Afghan pilots, many of whom could be targets of the Taliban. Lt. Col. Jalaluddin Ibrahimkhel, an Afghan Air Force spokesman, said: “It’s a shame. He did this to escape the service of his homeland “and that others were now more likely to” make excuses and escape “.
Zucchino writes: “Many pilots and soldiers have been threatened by the Taliban. Most can only dream of moving their family to the United States. “
Another group of Afghans whose service to Americans puts them at risk are those who served as interpreters.
In a June 10 Times article co-authored by Najim Rahim, Zucchino quotes former interpreter Shoaib Walizada: “I get phone calls from the Taliban saying, ‘We are going to kill you’ – they know who I am and that I am. worked for the Americans. “
Zucchino continues: “Now, as US troops leave and Afghans feel a growing sense of anxiety and hopelessness, visa applications have become urgent. With the Taliban profiting from the US withdrawal, many former interpreters say they are more likely than ever to be killed.
Zucchino reports that more than 18,000 Afghans are awaiting decisions on their special immigrant visa (“SIV”) applications according to the United States Embassy in Afghanistan. “Many say they are seized with terror, fearing that they will be refused or approved only after being hunted down and killed.”
The fate of the Afghan military and interpreters will be just two of the many stories Zucchino will relate as the US military withdrawal continues and after its completion.
Note: David Zucchino’s conversation on WCHL is available at.
His recent Times articles are available online at the New York Times website.
May 6, 2021
“The war in Afghanistan: how it started and how it ends”
June 3, 2021
“‘Find him and kill him’: the desperate escape of an Afghan pilot”
June 10, 2021
“As US Withdraws, Afghan Interpreters Fear Being Left Behind”