Sayed Kalimullah Barialai Aqeli hopes the U.S. doesn't forget the sacrifices made by those trapped on the other side.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than 200 Afghan refugees touched down at Philadelphia International Airport Saturday morning, escaping chaos just three days before President Biden's deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Sayed Kalimullah Barialai Aqeli said it is bittersweet, as many of his family members are in hiding and desperately trying to escape.
"I'm in contact with them, and they're very scared," he said. "So my brothers and my sisters, they worked for the Afghan government and different organizations."
Aqeli said he, his wife, and three kids escaped Afghanistan to Germany in 2013 after members of the Taliban tried to execute him.
He was a radio journalist and worked as a translator for the United States and NATO forces from 2003 to 2013. It took nearly 10 years before the U.S. approved his visa in 2020.
"Every night, I was just awake in the middle of the night, scared that someone was coming and would knock on the door," Aqeli said.
He says fear grips the citizens left behind who aided the United States and its western allies.
"My message to President Biden is to help the people of Afghanistan. There was a big hope, everybody, especially the young generation. They were planning for 20 years later in the future. There were universities, students who were studying had jobs. Now everything is gone," he said.
As hundreds of more refugees are expected to land locally, Aqeli hopes the U.S. doesn't forget the sacrifices made by those trapped on the other side.
"I ask the U.S. government to help my family because I'm living here, and I want my family to be living with me here," Aqeli said. "If I lose a member of my family, then I will not forgive the U.S. government."