‘People are terrified of them’: Locals grow fearful as Taliban surges in Afghanistan

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SAN DIEGO – Local Afghan immigrants are fearful for their loved ones back home in Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over the country.

“People are terrified of them; people are scared of these people, they don’t know what they’re going to do,” Atifa Rashan said.

Rashan said her heart breaks for her country and she’s lost all hope of returning since the Taliban took over the country, coming amid a decision by the Biden administration to withdraw combat troops from the region and ending America’s longest war.

“You just left them like that because you don’t want to fight anymore,” she said. “It’s all of them. Republicans, Democrats, they’re all responsible for this – for Afghanistan’s blood, you are responsible. You may answer for this one day.”

Like Rashan, El Cajon businessman Ajrudin Nabizada fears for his family back home in Afghanistan.

“I talked to my nephew last night and he was crying like, ‘Uncle, what will happen to me?’” Nabizada said.

He knows just how violent the Taliban can be after his own run in with them in Afghanistan where he worked as a translator for the U.S. military.

“Before saying anything, slapped me on the face and said this is your last warning I told you not to work with foreigners or the U.S. otherwise I will put a grenade in your home and I will kill your entire family,” he said.

After the threats, the U.S. military got Nabizada and his family out of the country in 2014 and they moved to San Diego.

Now as the Taliban takes over the country, Pastor Bill Jenkins, who helps refugees at Safe Harbors Network, said it’s likely an influx of Afghan refugees will soon be seeking asylum in the U.S., including in San Diego.

While it’s hard to say how many refugees might be coming, Safe Harbors and Jewish Family Service of San Diego are preparing.

“This is going to be a little bit different than any other immigrant refugee situation that we’ve had because there’s an old saying is ‘if you break something, you pay for it’ and let’s face it, in the last twenty years we broke Afghanistan,” Jenkins said. “And we have many people in Afghanistan who were translating for us, whose lives are now at risk, so we owe them.”

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