Ex-British Army interpreter talks about moment Taliban came looking for his father

12 August 2021, 16:39

By Tim Dodd

Former British Army interpreter in Afghanistan Jamal Barak talks about the terrifying moment the Taliban knocked on the door of his family home in search of his father and threatened to burn their house if they didn't present him.

It comes as the militant group has taken full advantage of the withdrawal of the US, UK and foreign forces and captured swathes of land across Afghanistan including provincial capitals, as the civil war with the Afghan government rages on.

There is mounting pressure on the UK government to resettle interpreters and other Afghans who worked with Britain as the Taliban continues to make gains.

Jamal Barak is a former British Army interpreter in Afghanistan who successfully qualified for resettlement in the UK, but his father Shista Gul worked as a gardener for the British Army and has not been successful so far.

Mr Barak told Tom Swarbrick: "The situation [has been] deteriorating in the last few days... My father and some other locally employed staff are trapped in Lashkar Gah, they are still in a very bad situation and we're still waiting to hear back from the British government but we haven't heard anything yet."

Tom asked: "The Taliban came to your family home, can you explain what happened?"

"Four Taliban fighters came and knocked the door," Mr Barak said.

"They asked about my father and my family denied [he lived here], [saying] 'we don't know this person'. Finally, at the time when they were leaving they threatened my mum and said 'we are going to burn this house if you don't get this person for us'.

"For the last few days we had this concern that the people in the village might tell the Taliban that the person who lives here, his son was an interpreter for the British Army, and [the person] himself worked in the main operating base in Lashkar Gah as a gardener for the British Army."

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Mr Barak said he continues to send emails to the British government asking for the right of sanctuary in the UK for his father who is in hiding.

"For the Taliban it's clear it doesn't matter what position you worked, or how long you have worked or what salary you get, for the Taliban we're all the same - they call us British slaves," Mr Barak said.

Mr Barak was referring to current and former locally employed staff in Afghanistan who worked for the British Army.

He added: "These people are at risk as well, they helped us as well... They still put their lives at risk for the last two decades."

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