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Old 04-12-2006, 07:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to help Afghan who saved Navy Seal?

I just read in Newsweek about this man's story. He helped a wounded Navy SEAL and lost everything as a result. He claims the man offered him a reward (which the soldier denies) and that the military offered to bring him to the US (which the military denies). I'll be generous and assume that either someone without authority made promises they couldn't keep, or there was some misunderstanding. Regardless, I hate to think about what kind of picture this paints of the U.S. when we're alreayd fucking up so badly on the world stage. I would really like to show this man that even where our government and military fuck up royally, the American people are good, generous, caring, and well-intentioned. Does anyone have any idea if there is a fund set up to help Gulab, or how one could go about doing so and making sure the money went to help him? I'm sure, with the publicity the story is getting, somebody will do something, but I want to make sure that is happening and find out how I can help.

story

A Friend in Need
The proud Afghan risked all to save a Navy SEAL. Now, feeling abandoned, he is facing death threats.
By Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai
Newsweek

April 17, 2006 issue - Even with all the troubles that followed, Mohammad Gulab says he's still glad he saved the U.S. Navy SEAL. "I have no regrets for what I did," the 32-year-old Afghan told NEWSWEEK recently. "I'm proud of my action." Nevertheless, he says, "I never imagined I would pay such a price." Last June, foraging for edible plants in the forest near his home in the Kunar-province village of Sabray, Gulab discovered a wounded commando, the lone survivor of a four-man squad that had been caught in a Taliban ambush. Communicating by hand signs, Gulab brought the injured stranger home, fed and sheltered him for two days and helped contact a U.S. rescue team to airlift him out.

Gulab has been paying for his kindness ever since. Al Qaeda and the Taliban dominate much of Kunar's mountainous backcountry. Death threats soon forced Gulab to abandon his home, his possessions and even his pickup truck. Insurgents burned down his little lumber business in Sabray. He and his wife and their six children moved in with his brother-in-law near the U.S. base at Asadabad, the provincial capital. Three months ago Gulab and his brother-in-law tried going back to Sabray. Insurgents ambushed them. Gulab was unhurt, but his brother-in-law was shot in the chest and nearly died. The threats persist. "You are close to death," a letter warned recently. "You are counting your last days and nights."

Gulab's story says a lot about how Al Qaeda and its allies have been able to defy four and a half years of U.S. efforts to clear them out of Afghanistan. The key is the power they wield over villagers in strongholds like Kunar, on the Pakistani frontier. For years the province has been high on the list of suspected Osama bin Laden hideouts. "If the enemy didn't have local support, they couldn't survive here," says the deputy governor, Noor Mohammed. Since the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, jihadists have been amassing influence through scare tactics, tribal loyalties and cash. A little money can purchase big leverage in an area where entire villages sometimes subsist on a few thousand dollars a year, and many foreign jihadists have insinuated themselves into the Pashtun social fabric by marrying into local families. "The enemy knows the culture and exploits it," says Col. John Nicholson, who commands U.S. forces along several hundred miles of saw-toothed borderland.

Al Qaeda effectively owns much of Kunar. "There is little or no government control over most of the mountain villages," says an Afghan intelligence officer in Asadabad, asking not to be named because of the nature of his work. Many local Afghan officials are afraid to visit their home villages. Fighters entering Kunar from Pakistan have grown increasingly brazen in their movements. "This year they are so bold, they are coming in broad daylight," says the Afghan intelligence officer. Around Gulab's home village, even the natives stay out of certain areas that have been staked off by the jihadists.

Fear wasn't enough to keep Gulab from helping the commando he found in the woods last June. The Afghan says he had heard about the previous day's ambush and knew that local insurgents were hunting an American who had escaped, but Gulab believed he had to do the right thing. Under the mountain tribes' code of honor—Pashtunwali, they call it—there's a sacred duty to give shelter and assistance to anyone in need. Using gestures, Gulab indicated that he meant no harm. The injured stranger signed back that he understood and lowered his automatic rifle.

Word spread fast among Gulab's neighbors that he had taken an American into the village's protection. The jihadists soon heard the same thing. Their commander, an Afghan named Qari Muhammad Ismail, sent the villagers a written demand for the fugitive. Gulab and other village men answered with a message of their own: "If you want him, you will have to kill us all." Sabray has roughly 300 households altogether. "The Arabs and Taliban didn't want to fight the village," says Gulab.

The next night, Gulab and his neighbors took their guest to a nearby cave. For two days they took turns standing guard with his weapon while a village elder traveled to the Americans in Asadabad, carrying a letter the SEAL had written and a piece of his uniform. Four days after the ambush, a U.S. military team finally arrived to secure the village. That night a helicopter carried the wounded man and Gulab to the U.S. base.

There, Gulab says, the SEAL thanked him and promised to send him $200,000 as a reward. The Afghan also claims that U.S. officers, knowing that he and his family would be in danger because of his heroism, promised to relocate them to America within two months. (The military denies such an offer was made.) All he has now is a $250-a-month job at the base as a construction laborer. "I sacrificed everything," he says. "Now no one cares."

After several requests for comment on Gulab's story, NEWSWEEK got an e-mail from Col. Jim Yonts, a public-affairs officer in Kabul. "The U.S. military undertook many positive actions toward this individual and the other Afghans of the area to show our national gratitude and respect," he wrote. "I can not discuss the issue of the U.S. Navy SEAL promising money, but I can tell you that there was never an expectation to arrange relocation for this individual or his family." The military has no authority to make such an offer, he explained. The SEAL, who remains on active duty, declined to comment via his attorney, Alan Schwartz, an "entertainment lawyer" in Santa Monica, Calif. Gulab only shakes his head: "Why would anyone else want to cooperate with the U.S. now?"

With Dan Ephron in Washington

© 2006 MSNBC.com

URL: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/12227623/site/newsweek/
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Old 04-12-2006, 07:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like he has a perfect excuse to claim refugee status. He'd be welcome just about anywhere - if he could find a way of getting there.
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Old 04-12-2006, 08:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How would the SEAL be able to promise him 200K? That seems really out of whack...
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Old 04-12-2006, 08:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highthief
How would the SEAL be able to promise him 200K? That seems really out of whack...
that's what I thought as well... especially when they had to use sign language to show that they weren't going to kill each other...

You might want to check with the writers of the story to see if they have any further info... they might...
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Just a thought on the alleged promise of relocation as well...That would be kinda tough to successfully relocate someone living a mountain tribal existence in Afghanistan, accustomed to "foraging for edible plants in the forest", anywhere in the USA. Would that offer also include the staggering amount of assistance a relocation of that magnitude for the guy and his family?
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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When this story came out last year, there was never any mention of money or bringing the dude to the US. I find it kinda odd that now there is.. And like highthief said, how could a SEAL promise to give the guy $200k when they had to use hand signals?

Anyway, the best help this guy could get is to get rid of Al Qaeda. Protecting a village probably doesn't fall under one of the US' main goals though. Bringing him to the US would be a major culture shock, and I don't think that's the best way at all. To be honest I think it's kinda stupid to try and help this guy by smothering him with money.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. The options as I see them are.

1. Bring him to the U.S. - in this case you must consider that
- It's likely he has a large family, even many extended family relatives.
- It will be extremely hard for people who foraged for food to survive in our country.
- The culture shock would be phenominal and long lasting.
- The Language barrier would be immense. If he had to use sign to explain he wanted to help he likely has NO knowledge of the English language.
- It's very possible that he cannot read in his own language let alone in English.

2. Leave him in his village.
- Most likely, unless the U.S. military disrupts another status quo in that country, this man will be dead within a year.

3. Let him work on the base.
- Well for now it may be more secure but what about when the U.S. leaves?

4. Throw lots of Money at him.
- Al Qaeda or those claiming to be insurgents, steal it from him.
- He doesn't know the value of it and it will be gone in less than a year.

It's like trying to make a fish walk. You take it out of it's natural element and you're in trouble. I realize he probably didn't comprehend the amount of antagonism that he would receive but it's possible that if he was sympthetic to the U.S. before he may have clashed with a few people before on the subject. Something doesn't seem completely valid about this whole situation.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I appreciate the "culture shock" sentiments, but I don't think the fact that he was foraging for food necessarily makes him a backwater native who'll blinch at the sight of horseless carriages. My dad and I used to go pick blueberries in the woods, f'rinstance. The dude ran his own lumber business and owned a pickup. Who knows, he might have even had a TV! I'm not saying there wouldn't be some adjustment, but this is not necessarily the best argument for denying him expatriation "for his own good."
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wasn't there some law enacted a while ago that allowed people who had assisted in the War on Terror to bypass some of the immigration laws and obtain a Green Card easier? Might apply to him.

Yes he may have had his own business, but moving from Afghanistan to the US would still be a huge culture change, and it would cost a lot to transition him over. Plus, you'd have to move his family as well. I'm not saying it's a bad idea by any means though.
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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yes. People are making every effort to sell this man short.
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:38 AM   #11 (permalink)
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There really needs to be a better word for someone from Afghanistan. I saw this thread and I thought that a Navy Seal was saved by some sort of blanket.. (Afghan). That said, I'm not sure this really reflects poorly on us. Sure, he saved the guys' life.. people do it all the time, and don't expect any sort of reward. If I see a soldier about to walk in front of traffic and I save him, should I automatically get free transport to New York, paid for by the government?

I empathasize with the guy, but he knew that by obeying Pashtunwali he would be exiled from his city. He acted with that in mind, and should accept the responsibility for what it brought about.

I mean -- if I were in the gov'ts position, I'd certainly reward the guy. But I dont think it should be expected that we will at all.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JinnKai
There really needs to be a better word for someone from Afghanistan. I saw this thread and I thought that a Navy Seal was saved by some sort of blanket.. (Afghan). That said, I'm not sure this really reflects poorly on us. Sure, he saved the guys' life.. people do it all the time, and don't expect any sort of reward. If I see a soldier about to walk in front of traffic and I save him, should I automatically get free transport to New York, paid for by the government?

I empathasize with the guy, but he knew that by obeying Pashtunwali he would be exiled from his city. He acted with that in mind, and should accept the responsibility for what it brought about.

I mean -- if I were in the gov'ts position, I'd certainly reward the guy. But I dont think it should be expected that we will at all.
Initially: lol @ afghan.

Second: It doesn't seem to me that he's looking so much for a reward, as for help, as he's lost so very much in offering this assistance. You saving a soldier from being hit by a car doesn't address you putting your family in danger, losing your home, being in constant fear of death threats, etc.

Its not that far removed from Germans helping to save a Jews from the Nazis.

Should the soldier have just accepted that he'd be captured, probably tortured and put to death? He knew what he was doing when he accepted his mission. Yet he accepted assistance from the villager. The villager is now in a position of appreciating some assistance himself.

It's called compassion.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Were I in the position, I'd certainly be compassionate. My issue, however, was that it seems expected that the USA should help him. We've no obligation to do so, and it doesn't make us horrible if we don't. And by we, I mean our government AND our country..
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Well, the expectation seems to be there because an offer was allegedly made. I don't think we'll ever know if it was actually made, though.

It just doesn't appear to me that this guy is expecting help *because* he helped, but because he feels there was an exchange of promises made. He did keep the guy safe and help him get rescued, that at least we know.

By the way, the story says the offer was made at the end of the SEAL's ordeal, when the helicopters picked him up. I'd guess they had a translator with them. But it's really hard to get the details from one short article. Maybe the translator goofed up (if they had one). Maybe the article has some pertinent details wrong or omitted or substituted.

If the SEAL did actually promise the villager money, I'd have to imagine it'd have to come out of the SEAL's own pocket...The article said specifically that it was the SEAL who promised the money, and the officers who promised relocation.

I dunno. There are just too many questions raised to be adequately answered with one short second-hand account.
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