The Afghan DJs hired, and abandoned by the U.S. military

The Afghan DJs hired and leaving, by the US military


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I.

On a certain day in the year 2012 Wafa is one of the few Afghans allowed was, within a Combat Outpost, “Little Blue”. It was a U.S. military camp in an open, dry pan in Shah Wali Kot, Afghanistan. The Outpost was surrounded by walls from a mix of Hesco container filled with earth and concrete blasting, topped with barbed wire, sit in the South of the country, in the province of Kandahar. It is camouflage netting and gravel Los were tents, where the helicopter hit from the top to the bottom, scattering a whirl of mud in the air. Moondust, the American soldiers called it. But inside is one of the few solid buildings on the Outpost, in the relative silence of a plywood shed, Wafa sifted through CDs. He was playing a digital disc-jockey, picking Pashto pop songs on his radio show. A U.S. soldier had filled a hard drive with American classic rock. Wafa on a heavily Auto-Tuned Pashto ballad and turned his finger in the air to the tuckernde beat, lost in the music. This was a potentially lethal act.

A guy Afghan DJ by the name of Jan grew up in the same province as Wafa, which was the site of a well-known cautionary tale about a taxi driver. It took place when U.S. soldiers and ground forces had just started to dribble in Afghanistan. The Taxi stopped to pick-up driver, but the Taliban on the roadside, listened to music playing in his car. She took a chain to his head and beat him until he was dead. A product of the Taliban’s dictum: “Those who will cast you to listen to music and songs in this world, on the day of judgment molten lead in their ears.”

But Jan remembered the first signs that the Americans actually had his house province secured at the end of the year 2002, almost two decades ago. He was in his house and listened to music from the radio, a signal thwhen the Taliban was gone. Outside, young people are fired to celebrate Kalashnikovs in the air. “I wish I had an AK-47 this time, so that I could shoot it,” says Jan. He was only 14 years old at the time. By the time Jan and Wafa DJs were, they were in their 20s. Both of them spoke to The Verge , under the condition that she be referred to only by their nicknames, to protect your own and your family’s safety.

In the case of Wafa ‘ s right-hand man in the studio, sitting on a plastic-looking American flag table cover was a black box. There are three Shoe boxes was high, with nobs, buttons, and digital readings. The upper half was a commercially available Denon DN-X500 pro DJ mixer; below a cool grey box with a blue border. The radio transmitter in it. The first time she fires it, you were uncertain whether it worked. She leafed through it, and Jan grabbed the mic and said, “This is Kerwan FM and we transfer from Gardez, Paktia.” He announced could call a telephone number to listeners. “If anyone hears us, please call.” The phone lines were immediately hit with more than 500 calls.

“We were so happy,” recalls Jan. “The radio was very easy. It was only in a box. But it is very powerful.”

turned up With an antenna and the Watt, it will travel hundreds of miles could be. It Wafa was ‘ s glorified shed in a radio station and hundreds of Afghans turned to work for the U.S. military in DJ warrior. The program was modest as a “Radio in a Box.”

worked for Wafa, the airwaves, the American forces were on patrol in Shah Wali Kot, the hat in front of “improvised explosive devices” planted in potholes. It might have looked like, Wafa was sitting at a safe distance from the war in Afghanistan, but he did not. To work by the time Wafa was “Little Blue”, the two DJs had been killed in the vicinity. The distance from the base has nothing to relieve the creeping feeling of siege mentality. “We have everything you need at Little Blue,” says a US soldier, worked with Wafa. “It was tiny.” Sometimes, Wafa went on patrol, the microphone in hand, through the valleys in the backyard of the old Taliban capital Kandahar city.

Listen to the podcast version of “Outside the Wire”

One October day, a call came in the studio. The local police had a Taliban fighter in a prison cell, in the pedestrian zone. Come and get him interviewed, they said. Wafa grabbed his recorder out of the line.

He came to the police station. Rarely he had seen the Taliban at close range. This Talib had been shot and killed. Wafa with the recordings started. The Talib, said that he was caught looking for a roadway for some of the recess to tuck a bomb in. Wafa asked why he was a member of the Taliban. He claimed that he was working for the Afghan police, but they were attacked by the Taliban one day, and stole his money. So he has decided, the Taliban and the revenge from the inside and, apparently, planned to finally give Insider information to the government.

Wafa knew immediately that he was lying. Transparent bullshit Taliban-worthy stories, radio transmission time instant.

Small blue, Wafa burned the lies Talib interview on a CD and prepares the radio show. In this moment, Wafa was powerful, to wave be free microphone in the enemy’s face.

Within a couple of years ago, Small Blue, and the radio station would be completely gone. The troops would be withdrawn combat outposts shutters, and, finally, the huge bases of the handover to the Afghan military, or by the acquisition of weed. Wafa would be permanently “outside the wire,” as they say, no longer protected by blast walls and machine gun nests of Small Blue, and back in his home town. Instead of Wafa to run around with his recorder, the Taliban would seek Wafa for an interview of their own, while he was looking for, and asked to escape a possibility.


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While Wafa’s childhood, which he rarely saw, by the Taliban. He grew up in a small village a few miles on a dirt road. He spent his childhood sitting with his grandfather in the house, listen to BBC radio for hours on end. Wafa ‘ s hero of the BBC Pashto correspondent Gohar Rahman, Gohar was. “He had an amazing voice,” Wafa. He loved the song requests and questioned the BBC with letters three, which, he says, were read on air. This set Wafa running around the house, which tells strongly of his whole family. His next goal: actually getting his voice on air during a live call-in show. He came very close. A station took its call, and to go in the queue. “But my phone ran out of batteries,” says Wafa.

If the United States invaded Afghanistan, Wafa was pro-American. He thought, the burgeoning Afghan government and the US had similar goals, the progress in the country. He joined a group of Afghan journalists, the radio and TV news broadcasts for the U.S. special forces, transferred by the legendary CIA base Camp Chapman.

This was not the United States in the first run on propaganda. When the U.S. military arrived in Afghanistan, his go-to was brochures. Planes flew over the villages, dumping thousands of white papers. Select a brochure, and a villager who can read about the 9/11 attacks or the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Sometimes the images helped. A brochure depicted Osama bin Laden with part of his face to reveal the flesh eaten, his skull. Experts don’t think it works very well.

Radio in a Box was a psychological operation (or PSYOP, as the military and intelligence call), and it was a great strategic innovation in Afghanistan. In rural areas, about 75 percent of Afghans depend on the radio to get information. In General, more than 80 percent of Afghans have access to a radio. The US army is trying to take advantage of, especially in terms of their primary target group: the Pashtuns. Afghanistan is a fusion of ethnicities and tribes, but the Pashtuns make up about 40 percent of the population. They are also the Taliban’s chief recruiting target. Wafa, and DJs like him, fought tune a psychological war against the Taliban in the inner pasch, the heads — is a positive glimmer in a war for the hearts and minds of Afghanistan, which was not going up to this point as well.


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This is what Radio in a Box, such an exception to the American psychological warfare: it was narrated by Afghans on a day-to-day basis, with PSYOP messaging from the American command.

“I remember the Radio in a Box was a big deal, and many of the commanders liked it. You could immediately see the benefit of it. You could send messages instantly on IEDs,” said Arturo Munoz, a former CIA analyst who studies the US PSYOP tactics. There was no other way. Many of the existing stations were afraid that airing anything that could be called pro-US material to make the bombing targets for the Taliban. So the military’s own mission.

Apart from the practicality and enormous reach of radio, Radio in a Box enabled on one of the cornerstones of psychological warfare, which Muñoz and his colleagues write about: credibility. It was with people of Afghanistan and for of the Afghan population. This was an important step forward and a journalistic interview of an Afghan radio personality with an opposite Talib, as Wafa, was authentic. The best propaganda is actually true.

Muñoz points out that the Afghan DJs on the risks of the American psychological war, especially those who live outside the protection of the US bases, who were lurking outside of the wire, where the Taliban are. When the combat Outpost is started, closed, the area was, in General, the rights ceded back to the Taliban weeks later. The DJs were forced to were an integral part of the new push for credible propaganda, play a fatal game of hot lava, hopping on a village, until the security situation deteriorated, then hopping in a new city, as more and more patches of security were devoured. If the US Packed up their equipment in flight, the DJs were left behind. Muñoz says the DJs could be refugees in their country for ever: “Everyone knows that you are together [with US]. They were on the radio for Christ sake!”


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Back when the United States pullout was still years away, the U.S. army rolled out radio propaganda on a large scale during President Obama’s troop surge. Money poured into security initiatives. Since the Radio in a Box program showed promise that she was ready to expand it. You are hired to help a private military contractor called Relyant to. Relyant hundreds of Afghans, such as Wafa-DJ-radio-shows, and used to be rented to the American bases, large and small. She worked under US command, sometimes propaganda-messaging receive-issued by the chain-of-command. Other than the DJs, on their own, making their way through cans of American-issued Rip It energy drinks, while they edited their interviews into the show and arrange your playlists. Wafa worked for nine months prior to the Relyant contract with the military Radio in a Box program ended sometime in 2013, and his card, peace Radio, closed shop. Wafa returned to the house, and that’s when the calls started.

the Taliban was. She told him that he, along with the US occupiers. He had to come down and face trial in one of their dishes. These so-called “courts” often ended with the defendant summarily executed. Wafa stopped the threatening phone calls secret from his family, out of fear that it would scare. He had to get out of Afghanistan, because, sooner or later, the Taliban would find him. If the United States drastically reduced its troop presence in the year 2014, the country’s security to deteriorate. But there was one hope: the Special Immigrant Visa.

, which from a law that Congress passed, the Special provides special Immigrant Visa (SIV) visas for Iraqis and Afghans, among others, worked for the United States during the wars. As long as an Afghan as Wafa proof of employment letter, the right of recommendation of the supervisor, and worked for at least a year, you could flee to the United States. But keep the program alive and gives Congress the Chaos.

applied since Wafa, there is a shortage of have been SIV. Thousands of additional visas are needed each year, and Congress has to create them. This culminated in two straight years of what is described by one Senate staffer as a “knock-down-drag-out fight.” Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and the late John McCain (R-AZ), the guide for more visas. A vicious battle played out behind closed doors, and SIV applicants paid a high price. Three thousand visas were approved, but a web was Packed with new obstacles in them, including a new two-year minimum of work by the applicant. In the next year, Shaheen and McCain gained a approve to amend for a further 4,000 visas.

On the floor of the Senate, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) blocked, allegedly for the benefit of another change in the bill. “McCain is just going apeshit went up to him,” as the Senate staffer says. McCain went on to Lee, “you will die, if we don’t have this change, and you take them out of the danger zone. Do you understand?” In the end, the 2,500 visas were poised to in the written statement — and they were — but only after the additional 1,000 visas have been shaved off.

Wafa applied to the SIV program and was rejected, also with a glowing letter from his supervisor, Air Force Maj. Paul Wever. “Wafa was poised to the area by storm and quickly established a large fan base with a 14-hour-per-day schedule,” Wever wrote. But the letter missed several Department of State requirements: Wafa, date of birth, a statement that Wever was his superior, Wever s contact information, a description of the ongoing threats to Wafa’s life, and an assurance that he has not compromised national security. If Wafa went in search of Wever for a revision, he could not be found. This was a common problem. Time passed, and when Afghans who worked for the United States went in search of their old heads, they discovered E-Mail addresses no longer worked, the phone numbers had changed, or contact information was lost. In another case, the about Wafa, the three DJs had to write a group picture of himself standing with the American Lieutenant, of which you needed a recommendation. In the photo, they were frustratingly close, side by side, but they were not always to find, lieutenant.


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The state Department created a “Supervisor-Locator” program to address the widespread struggle for SIV applicants in search of their military leaders: fill out a form, and the Ministry of defence is looking for an Afghan military superiors. However, Betsy Fisher, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), an NGO, has helped thousands of Afghans to apply for SIV says, “There was a case a few years ago, where we saw the supervisor locator work, but we have not seen the locator-work in several years.”

The U.S. state Department declined to comment.

These stories are many. Twenty refused DJs have come forward and shared their experiences with The Verge. Out of the hundreds of Afghans deployed to the Front, are likely to be achieved, were also rejected. Similar to Wafa, every DJ I talked to had received repeated death threats from the Taliban.

Wafa mediocre English is also faded. His go-tos were “What’s up?” and “How are you?” he says. He struggled to understand, the SIV application in English, and the State Department, not the forms or instructions, in the Afghan national languages, Dari or Pashto. Wafa told that his denial letter from the State Department also said, he could not file the paperwork in order. The letters, written to the exact details on the proper bureaucratic box-ticking were unfathomable to Wafa, because it was in English.


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Some DJs have it out of the country. Jan SIV process, for example, was much different. But his background, service, and staunchly pro-American views were irrelevant to his application. Jan, the chances for a visa rested in the hands of his military-recommender. It didn’t matter that his personal history reads like dispatches from a life-long anti-Taliban mission.

During the Soviet occupation of the 80s, Jan military family fought against the Mujahideen, parts of which came together again after the war and turned into the Taliban-the world knows today. Jan’s father worked for the Afghan secret service, KHAD, often as a driver. To avoid the Transport of the Kabul-head of the secret service in a food-supply truck-detection, they were ambushed. Shots pelted the truck, and 18 shots from a RPK machine gun on the left of Jan’s father half-way-gutted. The Mujahideen inspected her body. The boss was dead, but Jan’s father still breathed. A fighter, she asked aloud if she should finish him off. “No, let him suffer. He is going to die,” said the other. Sitting in the driver’s seat, his father “collected his organs, through his hand,” Jan says, and he tied a scarf around his belly, his guts in. He has survived. The whole family, the Americans supported at the time of their arrival in 2001. They considered the Taliban, unlike their Pashtun values. Afghanistan, however, had a 50-50 split in opinion.

Jan’s father taught him English, and Jan used for US as a translator, shredded his exams and began to help with psychological operations for the US Special Forces in the CIA Camp Chapman. Same as Wafa, in 2009, he was initiated into Radio in a Box.

Relyant took over the operation around 2011, when things fall apart started, says Jan, and other DJs agree. Relyant hired to help a new translator, to monitor the project, an Afghan name Hewad Hemat. DJs with whom I Hemat say voice installed himself as unofficial Advisor. One day, Jan a cricket match, and two other DJs who came out to help covered. When they came back, Hemat confronted the two DJs claimed they dodged real work, and fired them.

This happened on other stations also. Jan cataloged the redundancies: nearly 15 DJs from six different bases. Another DJ said Hemat via E-request Mail to his American commander, the DJ had contacts with the Taliban, but the commander that this is a lie. Still, the DJ claims Hemat false report got Relyant fired him. Jan says that Hemat then put his relatives in the open jobs. A “Afghan system of corruption,” he calls it.

A DJ, is now struggling to put together a SIV-tells the application that the Hemat is his “aunt’s daughter’s husband’s brother.” He got the job because his cousin, who is also related to Hemat, recommended him.

Hemat calls the DJs, the the claims of “baseless allegations.” In an interview, Hemat claimed that he had no relatives. Also, he adamantly insisted that only Relyant controlled setting and does not monitor, fire. He says the U.S. military was the only authority that you could let go of DJs, but he did add that Relyant fired a site manager for an indefinite period of allegations of corruption.

But, among the hundreds of documents, gifts, DJs, The Verge, there are several signed DJ contracts. Each contract States that “Relyant can this contract before the scheduled end date at its sole discretion, for any reason, which will become effective immediately after Relyant oral or written notice of termination.”

If I Hemat reading the burn clause, over the phone, he has again insisted that the firing of the DJs required military approval. Hemat refused to produce documents, he has the support of his allegations, citing the “personal information”. He said he could not comment on layoffs, allegedly, from the DJs who are concerned for their safety, the language of the Taliban, to me only on the condition of anonymity.


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Jan, these redundancies were to was a tremendous loss of experienced DJs and Hemat family clueless about radio. Once, a Hemat cussed rent the air and caused a riot that ended with an officer to calm an angry village chief try. Jan faced Hemat and complained to the American commanding officer, but nothing happened. Relyant Radio in a Box contract with the military ended in the year 2013, the radio stations shut down and to pull out soon after the U.S. troops began.

this time, Jan death threats. “The enemy sent a letter to my home, and they threatened my life, my dad, my brother,” Jan says.

One day, Jan was in his base, when he picked up a call. “Hey, we can kill you today.” Jan, indignant first, and he asked, “How?” The caller claimed, its location, its data, everything. Jan realized it would be hard to determine his whereabouts. “I was a DJ. I was very famous,” he explains. Further threats have been mixed in with countless of fan E-mail, including a love letter from a woman who claimed she wrote Jan’s name on the front and back of a piece of paper and swallowed it.

It was a terrible time for Jan. If he went through the villages, he asked me, who could try to kill him. A lot of DJs more mobile phones as a security measure to be carried out. The tactic was to quarantine all of your work for the U.S. military on a phone The cell phone was used to interview people, to orchestrate the call-in shows, and take songs. The “show” phone remained at the base. Your other phone, devoted to family and personal contacts, so that when the Taliban stopped and questioned, they could credibly refuse to cooperate with the United States. DJs went even further disguise, and their relationship with the coalition forces. A DJ, worked with Jan protected themselves with camouflage, growing a thick beard, which is generally prohibited by the U.S. army. “The Americans would call, me, Jesus,” he says. Another DJ, in Afghanistan, says that he speaks in a fake dialect to disguise his well-known voice.

Jan, afraid for his life, applied for an SIV and have it in six months. His wife and children moved to Buffalo, New York, where Jan now works as a private security guard most nights. Jan jokes that he will one day change his name to John “if I my application for citizenship.” Almost his entire family remained in Afghanistan. A few years ago, Jan ‘ s brother was shot in the stomach by the assassin. He survived.

In the year 2015, Congress increased the mandatory period of employment for the Afghans to be eligible for an SIV from one year to two years, a dramatic new obstacle. Jan says that at least 15 DJs, who he knew personally, were rejected from the SIV program, because their job was cut short by two years of Hemat. In the year 2017, Hemat, Sr., and Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) was a special guest at President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress, where Hemat says, he sat for the SIV program. Today, he lives in Connecticut on a SIV.

Relyant handed out boilerplate letters for employment verification, or “HR letters”, which is crucial for the SIV application. In some cases, Relyant employees are not answers, DJs with requests for employment verification. Other Relyant text blocks contain a classic “certificates of appreciation” that the State Department has never recognized as a qualifying document for SIV. A couple of certificates Relyant project manager, says are signed, he had never heard of the Radio in a Box program. Wafa says Relyant did nothing to help him, his military superiors. He sent repeated E-Mails to his Relyant supervisor and never received a response. A dozen DJs I spoke to say they experienced the same problem. The company’s old slogan adorns the DJ ‘ s boilerplate certificates: “A promise Delivered.”

Relyant has not responded to requests for an interview or follow-up requests for comment.

, thinks Jan Relyant was aware of the risks, the DJ-work. A former Relyant site manager confirmed Chad’s suspicion in a short phone call. “It was a dangerous job for you, I think,” said John Bagby, who have managed 20 to 30 DJs. Jan was lucky. His army supervisor told him that if he could get Jan in the United States, he would never forgive himself.

Wafa worked for nine months, and six days for Relyant. If the three months, he says, he treated the PSV for the US Special Forces can be taken into account, he squeaks, over and above the original one-year work requirement. But now, it is two years. Wafa appealing his application rejected.


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DJs who remain in Afghanistan, in order for an application to SIV face another deadly threat: wait a minute. State Department statistics show SIV processing takes so long. However, in a lawsuit against the state Department, lawyers for the International refugee assistance project discovered that the data systematically under-counts processing times. The time waiting for interview scheduling, time spent, background checks, and the time of the consular officer spends a final decision is made, among other things, the time is decreasing, not counted. The maximum allowable waiting time of nine months. The State Department already admits he blew the deadlines in the Statute and reported that it was with the construction of an additional nine months in the waiting time, on average. IRAP, on the other hand, pursues it, and says that the situation is even worse, as the State Department is known. You will appreciate the first step in an SIV application, a petition to the National Visa Center, it will take two and a half to three years for Afghan SIV “class members”; for Iraqis, it will take five years. IRAP found that, according to the US Embassy decides a petition with 2,300 SIV applicants have waited on average three years for a final say. In September, a judge, the State Department 30 days to come up with a plan to fix the backlog order.

Wafa could not afford to wait for the SIV system is notorious residues. The calls of the Taliban had come, and, finally, he trusted his father held. His wife, his two daughters and his son were in danger, he said. They agreed that he needed to leave.

Wafa paid $5,000 of his savings to a illegal people operating smuggling. The goal was Europe, specifically in Germany. What was really important to him that he is protected from the threat to his life in Afghanistan. In addition, he was flexible. But the trip to Europe was filled with dangerous prospects. As Jan of Wafa’s heard the plan, he called him.

“are There any security forces in any country, you can shoot them, no one wants illegal immigrants!” Jan told Wafa. “Wafa, you should not do this, because you can die.”

lawyers for IRAP appreciate you have taken more than 100 Afghans who worked for the United States and, because of the problems with the SIV-applications, went to Europe to plead for asylum. And it is unlikely that you took a simple ride to get there. Jan, Wafa traveled ignore to Kabul with two friends. At 2 o’clock in the morning, they prepared to Board a bus to the border with Pakistan. Wafa’s father was there. He prayed for a safe journey. With tears in his eyes, he adopt hugged Wafa. “Just pray for me,” Wafa said it to him.


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II.

The bus trundled
in Quetta, Pakistan.

she decamped into the desert and climbs through loose, gravelly hills. Water was in short supply. As they say down in the flat country, Wafa and his friends, human body saw parts scattered on the ground. It is believed that they were the migrants, like you, not made it would have exhumed the body from the shallow graves by the wind.

Pickup trucks arrived, and Wafa, and about 35 other Afghans, stacked in the back. You cut through the middle of the orange-and-gravel desert, headed for the unmarked border with Iran. Exhaust and dust kicked up in their faces, they cover. In the middle of the desert, the truck slows down. It was a checkpoint in the distance. Once you are close enough, you could see who was lock the crew of the road: the Taliban.

The group of Taliban forced to stop the pickup. Wafa and his friends were horrified. They were invited out. Wafa and the Afghans who gathered spilled out of the back, and the Taliban, in addition to the pickups. The Taliban could not recognize, Wafa, but he knew that he was a wanted man, that he was called out many times for what he expected an execution. What in the desert, but was something of a roadside sermon.

The Taliban talked about the correct interpretation of Islam, “what to do, what not to do,” who is Taliban, who is not the Taliban, and a message against the Afghan government. The pressure over the entire situation started to lift. It Wafa was clear that this administered a senseless Taliban PSYOP, in the middle of the desert to migrants and refugees, some of whom have been abandoned, precisely because of them.


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she came back into the pickups, and as soon as they passed over the border into Iran, the Afghans were in a sprawling smuggling network in the direction of Europe. In General, the only information that knew of the smuggler, was the nearest drop-off location. The Afghans moved by an endless series of safe houses and, once, a stable building.

“We were crammed together like animals,” says Wafa. They were dropped from the Turkish border and scaled icy mountains to feet, around rocks and through steep ravines, climbed to the top, and took their way to Turkey. The smugglers showed up in cars, and Wafa and the Afghans jumped. She got her first shower in Istanbul. The smugglers advised that you buy, energy drinks and biscuits for their most formidable obstacle: Bulgaria. The strategy of the spirit was by Bulgaria, the forests on foot. An Afghan migrant, as Wafa had been shot, on the border of the country.

The smugglers took Wafa and the Afghans on the edge of a huge forest in Turkey. From this point, they had been traveling for about 45 days, and to issue directions to March through it to the other side, the smugglers left. Wafa and the Afghans went into the forest. When it started to get dark, they found a place they huddled together under the tree crowns. No one slept. Hours later, they staggered out of the forest, hungry, on a street. You were in Bulgaria now. She waited, and two cars came. Everyone jumped in, and it speeds up for Sofia, arriving in the night. The 25 or so, who were Afghans, led to a dirty three-room house, where they slept on the floor, using their backpacks as pillows. They were not able to go outside for about five days, than the smuggler’s price-gouged for food. The smugglers, they withdrew in the night and drove cross another forest to go through, undetected. Wafa and his friends, the heads spun, with rumors that the migrants murders, true and false, and believed that the police was constantly on the search for you.

In the case of Wafa and the Afghans have emerged from the forest, the smuggler led them to an open field and told them to stay. Then, the smugglers said they would scout for the police activity. An hour went by. Then two. Then the three of us. “We were just left there,” Wafa says. In spite of the smuggling cost, which you paid for, all of a sudden, you had nowhere to go. “Of course, she says, lied to,” Wafa. “That’s what the smugglers do to you.” Abandoned and panicked, the Afghans broke out in groups, setting off in different directions. Wafa and six others stayed together. They wandered for hours, until she was tending to a shepherd — two of them, the older Bulgarian women, their sheep. They were not alarmed by the Afghans, and they began to talk. By this point, Wafa and his friends were half-mad from hunger. You asked if there was any food in the vicinity. Yes, it was a village with a small restaurant. She asked the police, any other threat to the prisoners by the authorities. No, the shepherd calms them down, there were no police here.

along made their way down the street, and as they walked, a car crept slowly passed. A man and a woman were in it. Up front, stopped the car. If Wafa and his friends passed the car, it leapfrogged ahead again. Wafa’s friend turned to the group. “This car is suspicious. We should ask, what do you want from us.” She spoke and asked if food was in the vicinity. “Yes, come and follow us!” the pair said. The friends are shocked. It wasn’t long before the driver stood on the brakes and came to a stop. He got out of the car and stood up. In the Bulgarian, he told them to run, the police are coming. The friends looked at each other. It is the betrayal that awaits them halfway, and the most feared.

she climbed for the woods, in a ravine, and waited carefully for any sign of police pursuit. They were not sure whether they had escaped. After a while, she up sent a friend up the slope to have a look. He came down again. The rest followed. When they emerged from the forest, they were surrounded by the police. As soon as they saw the police, Wafa and his friends, they were warning shots fired into the air. The Afghans were rounded up at gunpoint. One of Wafa’s friends, Ahmed, tried to speak to the police. The communication was difficult. An officer’s fist hit him in the head and neck, twice, and ordered him to look. The rest does not have to be told.


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The officials confiscated their mobile phones, money and bags and brought them to a refugee camp by the name of Busmantsi, on the outskirts of Sofia. The prison was all angular lines, high stucco walls, barbed wire, and, in the winter, it was surrounded by barren, open land and a hamlet of houses. It had a large steel blue gate for vehicles, with a people-sized door installed in the bottom right corner. Next to the gate, a sign: “Federal Ministry of the interior – Migration Directorate.” Inside, it was filthy and crowded with migrant detainees. To sleep Wafa and his friends were released, in a huge room with unassigned berths, but, lucky for you, you found a place. She ate two small meals a day. There is no bathroom after 10 PM, so people are, the easier for the in their cells. Some of the Afghans said it could be worth pushing, to itself home, instead of staying in Bulgaria, whose government considers them as more corruption than in Afghanistan.

After 24 days they were released. The Bulgarian authorities have your fingerprints. “You think that even if you go to some other European countries, in which they sent back to Bulgaria,” says Wafa. It is probably the fingers were games prints only thoughts. Any refugee can apply for asylum in the EU country of your choice. Wafa and his friends left and again with their smugglers, demanding you to go directly to Serbia. The smuggler just drove across the border at this time. From Serbia, there are a number of bus transfers and train journeys to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and finally Germany, where Wafa landed in Cologne. The friendly German development worker greeted him with a hot meal and clothing.

He applied for asylum and received a government-issue apartment in a small town by the name of Elsdorf. The German authorities called him in an interview. Days later, he received a letter. His interview was not credible and denied asylum. There was no explanation. Wafa still, why the request was

He was a German lawyer with the wild gray hair by the name of Frank Schönebeck for 900 Euro. If Schönebeck Wafa checked that the documents he turned to him in disbelief and said that the German authorities was crazy the decision. Wafa’s Radio in a Box were documents convincing. Schönebeck, told Wafa he was able to his 900 Euro and he was confident that his client would have his asylum papers in the eight months up to a year after the al-Wafa is in a complaint.

Until recently, he had no papers to be in Germany, while his case was processed. During this time, has slipped his family in poverty while he remained in his apartment in Elsdorf, alone.

“I just want to go to court and defend myself… My family is away from me for four years,” says Wafa. “What is my crime?”


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just before the 4. July, I have Maj. Paul Wever phone number. Had Wafa in the location of its SIV process was to reach out to him, for the elusive letter of recommendation, it may have helped. I tried calling Wever. No Answer. I texted, wanting to know how he liked to have felt on Wafa ‘ s fate, what were his sympathies as a commanding officer. Five days later, Wever texted back. He was not sure whether he could go on the plate. He wanted to check with the U.S. Central Command Public Affairs first. I contacted the office, and she had no objections. Still, Wever was dark.

An information operations officer, directly with the DJ’s talk, finally, with me on the Radio in a Box program. “If even the toughest deployment and the most dangerous… met the most, such as a self-realization thing,” he says. He remembers his motto: “first with the truth”, where it is in the Wake of the bombings, they were racing, the Taliban and other groups, such as al-Qaeda, their reporting and on the side of the story on the radio first. “From a perspective of fidelity, I really think that the DJs put their neck on the line to be on the air,” he says. As for the harder SIV rules, “I personally believe that two years is not easy. A year”, because, he says, the danger was so very acute for the DJs. “I try to fathom you, these guys are just scripts to play music and read.”

I texted Wever more details about Wafa’s story. Nothing. Finally, I sent photos of Wafa. “Do you remember him?” A picture of Wafa will receive a framed certificate by an army officer, a picture in front of a military vehicle, a picture of Wafa standing next to a sergeant on the guard, him in the arms cradled his M4 machine gun, Wafa microphone at his side. No reaction, except for the faint grey text under the pictures — read receipts, indicating Wever had seen my messages.

Recently, Wafa found work in the Epson camp, the advertising suggested-label printer-boxes. A purple sticker of a thick role has to the consumer, “Nuance Power PDF.” His schedule alternates between day and night shifts. The company has to work with the police to check to come down routinely Wafa and his co-workers, certifications, and Wafa is exhausted all the time. In spite of his agony, the search for security outside of the SIV system, which asked about the mere mention of his last work for the Radio in a box still, a grin of recognition, a children’s game, and he’s a finger-gun. Wafa is not a single bad word about the United States can muster.

“I devoted myself,” he says. “To be honest, I was working for you, with all my heart.” Sometimes, Wafa, the debt is so confused by his SIV rejection, which he pins on himself. “Maybe it was my English. I’m not very good in English and I’m not fluent,” says Wafa. “It could be my problem.”

If the Wafa offer for asylum in Germany fails, he says, he would go to the nearest US Embassy in Germany and has all its documents of a bygone time. He still believes that the United States could help him. “I was loyal to you,” he says, still hopeful.

Released on Tue, 19 November 2019 14:00:00 +0000

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