Source: Fox News.com
An Iraqi translator who has earned commendations for risking his life repeatedly to save the lives of many American soldiers in combat has been denied a visa to live in the United States because of nonviolent actions he took to overthrow Saddam Hussein — at the same time the U.S. government was calling for regime change in Iraq.
Jasim, whose name is being withheld for his safety, has received strong support from the U.S. military, and the Department of Homeland Security approved his application for a visa. But the State Department has denied Jasim a visa because he was arrested in 1996 for actions against the Saddam dictatorship.
Some of Jasim’s supporters, however, believe the real reason he’s been denied a visa is that he has become a “nuisance” to State Department personnel at the Baghdad Embassy. The State Department, citing privacy concerns, declined to discuss Jasim’s case.
Because Iraqi translators are seen by jihadists and former Baathists as “traitors,” Jasim’s life is at greater risk the longer he stays in Iraq, according to multiple State Department and U.S. military officials. A number of translators and their families have already been tortured and/or murdered.
Jasim said his stepbrother, in fact, was captured in the fall of 2007 and was tortured to death in an effort to get to him. The U.S. Army officer who received and processed the report on the murder, Major Leslie Parks, told FOXNews.com that Jasim’s stepbrother was tortured with an electric drill through his eyes.
U.S. military officials familiar with Jasim’s case believe that he will be in even greater danger after U.S. forces withdraw from most of Iraq next year.
The State Department, meanwhile, has told Jasim that he must wait three more years before he can apply for a waiver of its visa rejection.
When he applied for his visa, Jasim feared it might be denied by an overworked consular officer on the basis of his arrest, so he attached a letter explaining the full circumstances.
Jasim wrote that his hatred of Saddam was formed at a young age, as the regime murdered five of his relatives during his childhood. Barely into adulthood, Jasim joined the Peshmerga, a largely Kurdish group whose primary goal in the 1990s was to overthrow Saddam — an objective supported by the Clinton administration.
The Pehmerga assigned Jasim to obtain documents and eavesdropping equipment that were in the possession of Saddam’s ruthless son, Uday, and Jasimn said that he stole Uday’s car in order to retrieve the documents and equipment.
Soon after, he was arrested, and he was sentenced to life in prison. For the next six and a half years, he was routinely tortured, he said.
On the eve of the Coalition invasion in 2003, Hussein released many prisoners as a “goodwill” gesture, and Jasim was among them.
A year later, he joined the Iraqi Special Forces. Though officially allied with Coalition forces, the Iraqi military suffered at the time from ethnic and religious divisions, as well as corruption. Jasim came to believe that they weren’t fully behind the cause of freedom, so he signed up as a translator for U.S. forces.
During his three years as a translator, Jasim has exposed himself to enemy fire in the course of saving American lives. Three different Americans who served with him in Iraq told FOXNews.com that they are alive today because of Jasim.
“The only reason I am here today is because of Jasim,” said Elisabeth Keene, a U.S. Army specialist who serves in a combat unit. “He saved the life of everyone in my unit.
“On several occasions while our guys were putting rounds down range, Jasim put himself in harm’s way to pull the wounded out and treat them,” Keene said. “Jasim is a hero to everyone he has ever met.”
“I owe my life to Jasim … hands down,” said Master Sgt. Jason Krieger, who went on over 200 combat patrols with Jasim. “I consider him a brother, not only in arms, but in love as well.”
Those who have worked with Jasim are astonished at the decision to deny him a visa. FOXNews.com has obtained numerous letters submitted by U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel supporting his application. Each letter praises his heroism in glowing terms and strongly recommends issuing a visa.