As depicted in the movie, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Mr. Gulab encountered Navy SEAL officer Marcus Luttrell after he had been shot twice, suffering from internal injuries and other wounds. Rather than leave him to die, Gulab brought Mr. Luttrell back to his village to care for and protect him. The Taliban attacked, and Gulab defended his guest until American forces rescued Luttrell and brought him back to the US.
But now, Gulab faces deadly repercussions for his involvement in the rescue. Shortly after Luttrell was rescued in 2005, Gulab and his family were forced to flee for their safety. A few years later, he was wounded in a shooting, and the recent closure of the US base nearest his home has heightened his fear. The Taliban continue to threaten his life, including through a publicly posted letter in Pashtu:
“You are informed that your Jewish colleagues and Americans friends are gone now, so who will save you and what will you do? I ordered my commanders and the Taliban Mujahedeens to kill or arrest you alive and bring you to me. Then I will know how your Jewish friends cannot save or protect you.”
On Saturday, January 10, Gulab and his family were relocated to an undisclosed country in hopes of protecting them. They are currently seeking asylum in the US, but are finding that red tape is making the process difficult. Ultimately, the Department of Homeland Security will make the final decision.
Gulab is not the only Afghan in danger for aiding US soldiers. Business Insider reported that 80 percent of Afghan interpreters for US troops are unable to get Special Immigration Visas to come to the US for their years of service. It is estimated that 6,000 former interpreters are stuck in bureaucratic tape. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, only 1,051 visas out of 8,500 were awarded to Afghans under the SIV program.
With US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan, those left behind may become prime targets for Taliban revenge. Troops ended their combat role in December to focus on counterterrorism missions and training, assisting, and advising Afghan troops. About 11,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan in the beginning of 2015, will reduce to 5,500 in 2016, and in 2017 be consolidated to Kabul.
Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani recently told CBS’s "60 Minutes" that the US should “re-examine” its withdrawal from the country. Even if the “war” may be ended, Afghan is still embroiled in conflict and violence, and the president addressed the desire for continued support for the time being.
“If both parties, or, in this case, multiple partners, have done their best to achieve the objectives and progress is very real, then there should be willingness to reexamine a deadline,” President Ghani told CBS interviewer Lara Logan.