Iraqi Interpreters Grateful for U.S. Troops' Support Abood al-Khafajee considers himself lucky. A Marine captain for whom he was an interpreter in Iraq helped him and his family come to America. But others in al-Khafajee's family wonder why more Iraqi refugees aren't permitted to settle in the United States.
NPR logo

Iraqi Interpreters Grateful for U.S. Troops' Support

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15347832/15352889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Iraqi Interpreters Grateful for U.S. Troops' Support

Iraqi Interpreters Grateful for U.S. Troops' Support

Iraqi Interpreters Grateful for U.S. Troops' Support

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15347832/15352889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Abood al-Khafajee and his wife, Batul, settled with their family in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June. Neva Grant, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Neva Grant, NPR

Abood al-Khafajee and his wife, Batul, settled with their family in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June.

Neva Grant, NPR

Abood al-Khafajee and his family settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June. They had to leave Iraq after al-Khafajee, who had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Marines, was threatened with death.

Back in Iraq, he was warned that Americans hate Muslims. But in Brooklyn, he found friendly neighbors. What he failed to find were other Iraqis. He is one of the few allowed to resettle in the United States. And he doesn't quite believe it yet.

"Even my wife sometimes [says], 'Don't tell our families there that we are in America because maybe they will envy us," he says.

So how did al-Khafajee escape the threats of Baghdad? You could say he was rescued — by the Marine captain he once worked for in Iraq.

Capt. Zack Iscol told a Senate hearing that without al-Khafajee's help, his Marines were as good as deaf and dumb on the battlefield. Six months later, al-Khafajee and his family were allowed into the United States.

"For that, I consider myself very, very lucky," al-Khafajee says.

His wife, Batul, wonders why Americans allow other nationalities to settle in this country but Iraqis who helped the Americans have to wait.

Shaima, one of their daughters, adds that Americans should try to help not just the thousands of Iraqi interpreters like her father, but all the Iraqis who have fled the country — more than 2 million of them.