Afghan attack helicopter pilot, Major Mohammed Naiem Asadi, 32, and his family, had been approved for asylum in the United States. Yet, the decision was recently reversed.
Based on an article published by Stars and Stripes, Asadi and his family are currently under U.S. protection at an American base in Afghanistan. Asadi has been told that he and his family will have to leave the safety of the U.S. base on Monday, November 30, if he does not rejoin the Afghan Air Force.
Asadi had sought asylum for himself and his family due to the growing violence and death threats against his family for the role he has played in the war against the Taliban.
Afghan and U.S. military officers reported to Stars and Stripes that Asadi has killed more Taliban members than any other pilot in the Afghan Air Force. This makes him an obvious target for the Taliban.
He had applied for himself and his family to come to the U.S. under Significant Public Benefit Parole, which is designed to provide temporary status for non-citizens that need protection.
The Pentagon had approved his asylum request but reversed the decision a few weeks ago. The decision was reversed after several high ranking military officials claimed they were worried that Asadi’s approval process may not have satisfied all appropriate requirements. There was also concern about allowing an active duty Afghan Air Force pilot to flee to the United States.
In the past, other Afghan helicopter pilots have sought asylum in the United States. Pilots who were unsuccessful in gaining asylum have faced potential jail time from the Afghan government.
Asadi’s lawyer, Kimberly Motley, who had represented another Afghan pilot in 2016 that was given refuge in the U.S., is very worried that Asadi will be placed in prison and separated from his family if not granted asylum.
The Afghan Defense Ministry’s Deputy Spokesman, Fawad Aman, claimed that the government is committed to keeping Asadi safe.
Asadi has expressed his doubt in the Afghan government’s ability to protect himself and his family. There is a historical track record of the Afghan government failing to protect pilots. This has resulted in the deaths of pilots in the past.
Likewise, Motley has very little faith in the Afghan government’s ability to protect Asadi. “It is also quite clear that the Afghan government cannot (or will not) protect the Asadi family from the Taliban. They simply do not have the capacity or ability,” she said.
Historically, when an Afghan military member attempts to receive asylum, they become more of a target for the Taliban.
During the summer, an American pilot, flying an A-29 Super Tucano attack turboprop, crashed in a Taliban-controlled area, in northern Afghanistan. Asadi and another aircrew quickly responded by flying two MD-530 attack helicopters to the crash site, assisting with rescue and undoubtedly saving the life of the Air Force pilot.
In response to their denial of entry to the U.S., Asadi said, “It’s very scary for me. My wife, she knows too. She is very sad, she didn’t eat lunch or breakfast; we didn’t sleep last night. It’s a very bad situation.”