“Trusting in Canada’s fundamental humanity, we are optimistic that a solution can be found,” wrote Hess. Typically, coalition translators are dedicated, often selfless and take many of the same risks as the soldiers for whom they work.
At least two were killed while on operations with Canadian troops. One of his first translators, whom he called Ahmed, was among his best, expanding and refining his English as he diversified and built his experience working primarily for Canadian and American forces.
“They don’t finish an interpreter’s life with just a single bullet. They only use bullets when they come after their targets into the restricted areas like cities with high security.” One translator was beheaded, his severed head left on his chest on the Kandahar-Kabul highway. A picture of him lying in peaceful repose with a single bullet hole beneath his chin appears on a Facebook page.
“If he has given his life on way of allah, he would have been rewarded with janah (heaven),” wrote one commenter called Muslim Pardes, “but unfortunatly he give his life for bush and obama, who are here to kill some afghans muslims. may allah bless him with hell and give his family and relatives the hardest life on both worlds.” Canada’s former Conservative government provided refuge to interpreters facing proven threats due to the work they did for Canada in Afghanistan.
Both escaped with their lives, although one was later shot in the right hand after he was seen in a local market.
Ahmed, who had survived an IED blast, acquired a U. green card in 2006 and moved his family to Brooklyn, continuing to work for coalition forces in Kandahar.Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole has said he knows of about 10 with certificates proving their service and whose general whereabouts are known.“I remember asking my guys, like, ‘who else do we want to bring over,’” said Alex Watson, who as a major commanded a company of Canadian troops employing Kazimi’s services while mentoring an Afghan combat battalion in 2009.It was Watson’s third tour, and he got all three of his personal interpreters into Canada or the United States.His troops had a stable of about two dozen others who rotated in and out.“Ahmed was late a lot, especially in 2006,” Watson said.“You had to be respectful of that because the highway between Kandahar airfield (where the Canadians were based) and the city became very, very lethal, especially in 2006-2007.“To escape persecution by insurgents, many of these linguists have been forced into hiding in their home country or escaped only to be stranded in Europe,” she wrote.She pointed to Canada’s current policy directing those left behind to go through existing immigration channels, saying the process “represents an extreme hardship for them due to the perils of openly traveling in Afghanistan; the difficulties of applying while homeless or in a refugee camp in Europe; the challenge of the application process itself, including proof of persecution, which is often impossible to procure; an acute lack of resources; and myriad other obstacles.” Other coalition countries, Britain and the United States among them, have re-evaluated and revised their resettlement policies, granting asylum to linguists who missed the first wave.He’d moved up in the world significantly; he was a power-player in Kandahar province. “I think he found that less auspicious, although I’m pretty sure he was pretty great at selling paint. What if I get killed one day, then who is going to take care of my loved ones?That dude could sell anything.” Two of Watson’s other personal translators now live in Toronto, one of them a machinist, the other in the import/export business. “All three of those guys, I would do anything for.” Kazimi said he wants to come to Canada for his family’s sake. “More importantly, I want to gain my right to live as a Canadian citizen in Canada and work there like my other friends who are currently living there.