California father details evacuation from Afghanistan; relatives left behind

One man from the Bay Area is sharing his story of how he made it to the Kabul airport in order to evacuate from Afghanistan.

Qiamuddin Safi says it was a difficult and painful journey back home to San Leandro,  having to leave behind his father and other relatives.

He says their lives are now in danger because of his work with the U.S. military.   

Safi shared with KTVU videos and photos of his ordeal, including one that shows he was in a long line of people as he walked towards a U.S. military plane at the Hamid Karzai Airport. 

Once onboard, a military service woman threw earplugs at him and the hundreds crammed inside the plane that was flying them out of Afghanistan.

 "People were so sad. They were crying, the family (left) behind. They were worried about what's going on in the country," Safi says he immigrated to the U.S. 10 years ago after serving in the Afghan National Army.

He pointed to a spot on the back of his neck, saying that there is still a bullet lodged inside from an ambush that killed two of his brothers.

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After his debilitating injury, he says he became a security chief working with the U.S. military.

Safi says he returned to Afghanistan in July to care for  his father who was ill.

 He showed KTVU a photo of his father's work identification badge, saying that his father also works with the U.S. government. 

He says he's  concerned for his father's safety and that of his other relatives  who haven't been able to leave Afghanistan.

 "My father work shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. Army. Why should I lose my father, for what?"

 Safi says there is severe damage to his father's business office due to a bomb that detonated nearby. 

He shared a video he says he took of a Taliban member striking a friend as that man and Safi tried to make their way to the airport. 

Safi says it took days before he finally got inside  with a U.S. passport, but without his relatives.

 "I have a strong pain inside," he said. "It's going to hurt me inside."

 He was able to return home to San Leandro and be reunited with his children last Friday.  

 "I feel free now, but I'm still sad about the family members stuck out there," says Safi's 14-year-old son, Bilal.  

 Safi's 11-year-old daughter, Arso, says she's grateful for her father's safe return and that she's in the United States. 

"If I were still in Afghanistan, I wouldn't know nothing. It would be like being inside a cage," she said. 

 Safi is contacting U.S. lawmakers to try to help relatives escape.

 "I'm an American citizen. I have a good life. What about me? I can't do anything because of my family. I can't go to bed. I can't sleep," Safi said.

He's getting support from a U.S. military commander he befriended while they worked together in Afghanistan.

Safi hopes to get special visas expedited for his relatives.

But the clocking is ticking with the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal fast approaching.