(Name Changed and Photos Redacted for Safety)
Abdullah supported U.S. soldiers on several military bases in Afghanistan. He worked with Chris Liggett as a trusted cultural advisor in 2014 and he was involved in complex base security measures which thwarted complex attacks and enabled events like the Afghan national elections.
While Abdullah continued to serve in Afghanistan, he and Chris remained friends and worked on his Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) application. After several years dedicated to the SIV process, Abdullah and Chris watched together as the Taliban quickly started to take control of the country in August of 2021. Abdullah and his family of 9 fled their home and joined the mass of families trying to escape through the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
While Chris was advising him from the United States, Abdullah took it upon himself to organize a group of Afghans (known as the Gate Volunteers) who chose to focus their efforts on safely transporting women and children, providing real-time information to U.S. soldiers, and organizing crowds outside the airport gates in addition to providing for their own families. This was a harrowing task and many of the Gate Volunteers were outside of Abbey Gate when the explosion tragically killed 13 U.S. service members.
Luckily, Abdullah and his immediate family made it out of Kabul together. He is currently at an inprocessing center in New Mexico and plans to settle in the Colorado area where Chris’ family will welcome them into their new community.