American troops are often blessed to have the aid of some remarkable translators in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq.
However they often are overlooked by folks back home.
One brave translator from Afghanistan names Janis Shinwari saved the life of an Army intelligence officer and became a target of the Taliban.
His sacrifice was not overlooked by Matthew Zeller, the soldier he saved. Now after a 2 year battle, he has finally received a U.S. visa and plans to move his family here.
Do you think it’s right to make these heroes wait so long?
The Afghan interpreter who saved the life of an Army intelligence officer and became a target of the Taliban for his trouble has finally arrived in the U.S. to start a new life, after a long battle to win a special visa.
Janis Shinwari arrived at Reagan National Airport in Washington late Tuesday night, where he was heartily greeted by Matthew Zeller, the Army soldier who says he owes his life to Shinwari. Zeller campaigned tirelessly for a special visa reserved for translators who put their lives on the line for U.S. military personnel. The visa was finally approved last month, but then mysteriously pulled, according to Zeller.
Shinwari, 36, told FoxNews.com he, his wife and their two children are eager to start a new life in the U.S., especially after Shinwari spent the last several months in hiding after he became known for helping the U.S. military.
“I’m feeling very happy,” Shinwari said. “Now we are in the U.S. and we will have a good life. No fear of the Taliban. No fear of sending my children to school.”
Zeller, who greeted Shinwari at the airport with the Arabic salutation “Assam alaikum,” said he’ll be close to his friend and help him adjust. Shinwari is looking for work as a translator.
“He [Shinwari] will live in Alexandria [Virginia], 10 minutes from me, and is thrilled to finally start his new and very well-earned life in the U.S.,” Zeller said.
Shinwari applied to move to the U.S. in 2011 under a special immigration program begun in 2009 for people who helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Shinwari was Zeller’s interpreter while he was stationed near Kabul and was saved by him during the war.
The two met in 2007. A year later, Zeller was on patrol in the Ghazni Province when he and his unit were ambushed by the Taliban. Shinwari was back at the base and went with a team to aid the men, even though it wasn’t his job. Armed with a rifle, he was on the front lines assisting Zeller’s unit when an armed Taliban fighter sneaked up on Zeller. Shinwari shot the enemy before he could harm Zeller, and the two formed a brotherly bond from that point on, Zeller said.
Zeller, 31, credits media pressure from Fox News and other outlets after Shinwari’s visa was revoked with pressuring the U.S. Embassy to fast-track the translator’s application. Under the program, applicants are carefully vetted to ensure they will not work against U.S. interests once in America.
“The U.S. government ended up polygraphing him twice in Kabul — he passed with flying colors each time,” Zeller said.