Afghan Translator who rescued several American citizens and translator officially becomes a US citizen

Janis Shinwari celebrated his first Independence Day as a US citizen on the 4th of July 2020. His…

Janis Shinwari celebrated his first Independence Day as a US citizen on the 4th of July 2020. His journey to America began on the battlefields of Afghanistan, his country. The forty-two-year-old Afghan had been serving in the army as a translator for the American soldiers for nine years. He was doing this at the cost of his life and that of his family. During his service, he protected many American soldiers including the man who helped bring his family to the US. 

Shinwari said that he decided to help the US forces after witnessing the brutality of the Taliban. He knew that the Americans required translators and was also aware of the risk he was taking. In an interview with CNN Heroes, he said, “If I was in Afghanistan — if I didn’t come here, I wouldn’t be alive now. I would be dead. If the Taliban catch you, they will torture you in front of your kids and families and make a film of you and then send it to other translators as a warning message to stop working with the American forces.”

The oath of allegiance was administered to Janis Shinwari and his wife by Ken Cuccinelli, the Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security in Fairfax, Virginia. The Secretary honored Janis and his wife for saving the lives of 5 US citizens and for helping the US forces. One of the men he saved was Captain Matt Zeller, a US soldier he had met only a few days earlier. Zeller’s unit was attacked by the Taliban while they were on their routine patrol close to the village of Waghez in Ghazni province. They were outnumbered and outgunned. After a mortar round exploded, he fell into a ditch and thought he was going to die. However, he was rescued by Janis who shot the two Taliban soldiers that were about to kill him.

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