Trapped in Kabul, Afghanistan, a former U.S. Army interpreter said Thursday that the Taliban crackdown was becoming increasingly more violent and that he was dreaming of escaping with his family to Chicago.
The interpreter, whom NBC News is not identifying by name to protect him, said he, his wife and his children are hiding out in Kabul, not far from Hamid Karzai International Airport.
As he spoke, screaming could be heard in the background.
"I'm OK now, but the situation is bad, very bad," he said. "From where I am, it should take five minutes to get to the airport. But now it's impossible. It is very dangerous."
Later, in an email, the interpreter wrote: "I can't go my own home because of bad guys and I have hidden my self in my relatives home. Because I served over 10 years for US Army! I can't sleep well because of scary situation!"
Asked where he hoped to go, the interpreter answered, "I want to go to Chicago." He said his former Army supervisor was from the city.
In Illinois, the interpreter's former Army supervisor said he had been trying to get him and his family out of Afghanistan even before Kabul fell.
"I helped him and another Afghan interpreter I worked with fill out their SIV applications even before all of this kicked off," the vet, whom NBC is also not identifying by name, said, referring to Special Immigrant Visas. "He's a human being, a man with a wife and four kids that he's trying to save right now. He knowingly risked his life to fight alongside American troops in Afghanistan for 10 years. He needs our help now."
The legions of Afghans who worked with the U.S. armed forces and with American and other media organizations are especially fearful of Taliban retribution.
President Joe Biden has vowed to evacuate the Afghans who helped the U.S. government. And other countries that backed the U.S. in the 20-year Afghan war — like Denmark and Poland — have started removing the Afghans who assisted their forces.
Meanwhile, terrified Afghans are camped out "day and night" at the airport, including many who do not have passports, travel documents or any real hope of getting out, the interpreter said.
The Taliban guarding the gates and perimeter of the airport, he said, are rapidly losing patience with the horde of would-be escapees.
"The Taliban is around them, yelling and hitting them. They are firing in the air to get them out, but they won't go," he said.
The former Army interpreter repeatedly emphasized that "conditions are getting worse."
"Please take care of us," he said.