‘We will pay with our blood’: Afghan translators warn withdrawal of British troops from their homeland could put them at risk from an emboldened Taliban
- UK followed US and Nato allies in a commitment to leave country by September
- But men who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with forces fear they’ll be ‘left behind’
- Taliban swears to take revenge on interpreters, condemning ‘spies of the infidel’
Translators for the UK military in Afghanistan have warned ‘we will pay with our blood’ for the withdrawal of British troops from their homeland.
Former and serving translators reacted with anger and alarm yesterday as the UK followed the US and other Nato allies such as Germany in a commitment to leave Afghanistan by September.
Men who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with UK forces fear they will be ‘left behind’ to face a resurgent, emboldened Taliban.
It has sworn to take revenge on interpreters they condemn as ‘spies of the infidel’ because of their work for the British.
Translators for the UK military in Afghanistan have warned ‘we will pay with our blood’ for the withdrawal of British troops from their homeland
Dozens of interpreters have contacted the Mail’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign, which has highlighted the plight of translators, to tell of their fears that the pull-out of UK and US forces will mean they are ‘hunted down and murdered’.
Abdul, 34, who worked for more than three years on the frontline in Helmand, warned: ‘This is a gift to the Taliban. The British, who we risked our lives for, are leaving us behind to an enemy they could not defeat.
‘We have been repeatedly threatened and attacked because of our service and now we face being left on our own. This is a nightmare for all those who risked so much to make our country a better place and believed the promises we were told by the West. The Taliban is still here – it is strong and wants us to pay with our blood.’
Ex-frontline interpreter Faiz, 36, said the withdrawal was ‘opening the door for the Taliban to put us in the grave. There is currently a degree of protection from the presence of Western forces but this will disappear… the Taliban has won and must be laughing.’
An estimated 350 military interpreters have been killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2014 – nearly one a week – and translators claim insurgent threats and attacks are on the rise.
In recent months, more than 30 ex-British military interpreters have been told they will be relocated to the UK in recognition of their service and the Taliban’s growing threat.
But many have been warned they may have to remain in Afghanistan for up to 18 months while their cases are processed. They say this delay will leave them ‘fatally exposed’.
Retired colonel Simon Diggins, founding member of the Sulha Alliance, which helps translators, has written to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace calling for the process to be accelerated.
Former and serving translators reacted with anger and alarm yesterday as the UK followed the US and other Nato allies such as Germany in a commitment to leave Afghanistan by September
He warned: ‘The inevitable consequence of withdrawal is that current and former interpreters will be left exposed and highly vulnerable.
‘This is all happening against a background of a deteriorating security situation and, potentially, a partial Taliban takeover of ministries.
‘You can imagine what could happen if the Taliban have access to the files containing details of those who worked for the British and others.’
Mr Diggins also raised the concern of hundreds of ex-translators dismissed for disciplinary reasons from their jobs, which would normally exclude them from sanctuary in the UK.
He said: ‘The Taliban don’t care that an individual was dismissed or not.’
This month the Government implemented a new policy that will give relocation to hundreds of Afghans who helped the UK but many fear the offer of sanctuary will come too late.
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