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This Afghan interpreter risked his life for US Marines. Now, they’re fighting for him to stay in the US


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It was November 2010 and a platoon of Marines was patrolling outside of a village in Helmand Province, Afghanistan – slowly, and carefully, to avoid accidentally stepping on hidden improvised explosive devices. They walked in a single file line meant to reduce the risk of multiple Marines being taken out in one blast.

In the patrol formation was Zainullah Zaki, a young Afghan man working as an interpreter with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. As the Marines scanned for hidden explosives, Zaki, known as Zak by his American counterparts, listened to the radio, monitoring frequencies for Taliban communications.

As they walked, he heard a Taliban commander coordinating an ambush on the very Marines he was with.

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