U.S.-Trained Afghan Fighter Pilot Is in Hiding After Being Denied Safe Passage

Maj. Naiem Asadi, an Afghan pilot trained by the U.S. military, became known for his bravery during six years of fighting in the country’s war, from battling Taliban and Islamic State fighters to helping rescue a crashed American pilot, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Today, facing death threats from the Taliban, he is in hiding with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, after the U.S. reversed its decision to help him leave Afghanistan and live in America.

In late November, the U.S. military asked Mr. Asadi and his family to leave an American military base in Afghanistan, where he had sought refuge from the Taliban for a month, after the Pentagon withdrew its initial support for his request for protection in the U.S.

“We didn’t expect the U.S. government to leave us halfway,” said Mr. Asadi, who says he has killed hundreds of Taliban and Islamic State fighters during his active duty with the Afghan military.

“After completing a full review of the request, the appropriate officials determined that DoD [the Department of Defense] could not support the request,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Robert Lodewick said.

As the U.S. prepares to extricate itself from Afghanistan, Washington faces a dilemma over whether to help individuals who fought with and even saved Americans to leave the country—something that could deprive the Afghan military of its best fighters, when the survival of a political project the countries built together is at stake.

Mr. Asadi’s case has raised ire inside the U.S. military, with officers who trained and worked with the pilot saying he has done enough for Afghanistan and for the U.S., and that America should honor its initial pledge to protect him.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Pentagon’s top officer, met with Taliban officials on Dec. 15 in an attempt to accelerate peace talks between Kabul and the insurgent group that could help end the nearly two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan.