SALT LAKE COUNTY — Siraj Matin has pictures with his older brothers; memories of their lives in Afghanistan together before the Taliban killed one of them.
“They executed him,” Matin said. “They chased him from Afghanistan to Pakistan.”
Matin and his eight siblings grew up more than 100 miles away from Kabul, farming the land.
In his last year of high school, Matin was captured by the Russians during the Soviet-Afghan War. He spent months in prison before he was rescued.
For the next seven years, Matin fought against the Soviet Union until his injuries required serious medical treatment.
“The last injury I had was in a mine explosion where I lost both hands,” he said.
While leaving Afghanistan, Matin met a doctor from Utah volunteering at a refugee camp in Pakistan. The doctor invited Matin back to the Beehive State for treatments in 1985.
Matin stayed during his medical treatments, and though he felt a draw to return to his homeland and family, he ended up staying, meeting his wife and having five kids together.
During the many conflicts in Afghanistan, Matin said his family’s farmland was taken and distributed among other farmers for decades before it was returned to his family.
Matin has lost many friends and loved ones since he left in the 1980s and with the Taliban's return, he says “the nightmare starts all over again.”
It's a frustrating reality for Matin, who said he feels powerless when it comes to helping his loved ones.
Matin’s nephew worked for the United States and was promised by the Federal Government he would be granted a Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, for his work with the U.S.
Matin said if the Taliban finds his nephew, they will kill him because he worked for the U.S. (FOX 13 is withholding the nephew’s name to protect his identity).
“He worked for the military for three years in a side by side. He wore the same uniform, he fought with them,” said Matin.
Wifi is the only way Matin can connect with his nephew now, so their communication has been spotty.
In a text message, Matin’s nephew said, “When I was in the military I was a brother. I worked with them. I was not a translator, I was a brother to him and I was trying to build a bridge but now I am just a forgotten case.”
Every day, Matin’s nephew has gone to the Kabul Airport, trying to get his family out — he was there during the attack.
“The situation is in Kabul is getting worse day by day,” said Matin’s nephew. “They are searching the houses, they are chasing the people.”
Matin’s nephew and his family have no food. Market prices have doubled, making what originally cost 10 Afghani now cost 20 Afghani.
Matin said he can’t send money to his nephew to help because the Taliban is monitoring who gets bank transfers from the U.S.
Most frustrating of all for Matin and his family is that they have tried to bring his nephew over since 2012, but the U.S. has not honored their SIV agreement.
The nephew’s employment with the U.S. has put a huge target on his head, especially because Matin said the Taliban has access to all records of who was employed for the U.S. and they intend to go after them.
“I didn’t put all of my life in danger, but I put all of my family, like my brothers, nephews and nieces. Why? Because I work with the U.S. government,” said Matin’s nephew.
The past 15 to 20 years where the U.S. provided some stability and safety, which Matin said was appreciated, but now is just a blink.
“I feel for my family and the Afghans. I feel for the servicemen of this country,” said Matin. “They’re giving their lives to help other people’s lives and that’s called courage.”
Matin and his family have been in contact with all Utah delegates for more support in their efforts.
If Matin’s nephew doesn't evacuate Afghanistan before August 31st, Matin said he loses hope of surviving.