'Please help me God': East Bay man escapes Afghanistan but fears for family with US military ties

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

In video taken by Qiamuddin Safi in early August, viewers can hear the echoing sounds of unrest in Afghanistan.

SAN LEANDRO (KGO) -- In video taken by Qiamuddin Safi in early August, viewers can hear the echoing sounds of unrest in Afghanistan.

"I finished my prayer. It was 7:38 p.m. local time in Afghanistan when I heard the blasts," Safi shared.

RELATED: Deadly gunfire at Kabul airport; Taliban insist on US pullout date from Afghanistan

Only moments before, Safi said a car bomb shattered the windows of his family's business, which was located in Kabul's former diplomatic quarter, known as the Green Zone.

"A lot of people died outside. Civilians," Safi told ABC7 News. "If you see our buildings, you do not believe at all what's happened to them. You'd say no one can survive, but thank God I survived."

Safi landed in Afghanistan in early July. He was there to assist as his father recovered from eye surgery. Safi said he briefly took over the business.

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW: Qiamuddin Safi details miraculous Afghanistan escape

He said, "My family and I work different skills with U.S. military, on the ground. I provide security, I provide logistics. Anything in logistics, food supplies, everything. Plus construction."

With Safi's return-flight scheduled for the 18th, he was there for the Taliban takeover. He shared his complete shock after witnessing the widespread fear firsthand.

"Woman is running, man is running, old man. The child is screaming in the street," Safi shared. "Everybody said, 'They're coming! They're coming!' And I asked the ladies, 'What's happened?' They said, 'The Taliban is coming.'"

RELATED: At least 7 killed in panicked crush at Kabul airport amid Afghanistan evacuations

He said that was the moment he felt shock.

Safi explained, "I stopped myself, I said, 'Please help me God.' When I see the people, from local artists, government peoples, non-government peoples. Everybody's run away and screaming, they don't know what should they do, where they're going. That was the moment that I never saw my life."

Having survived a Taliban and al Qaeda ambush in 2008, then coming to America in 2011 and seeking political asylum, Safi was looking for a way out. He said he became a U.S. citizen officially in March 2021.

Safi shared video with ABC7 News, showing the crowd of people also escaping Afghanistan. Footage shows people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder inside of a plane. Safi estimates there were 600 others.

VIDEO: Marines pull baby over barbed-wire wall at Kabul airport amid chaotic evacuations

However, upon his return home to the Bay Area, Safi said he's gotten no sleep.

"I need help to get out my entire family," he said. "And as a U.S. citizen, because of this, I want to try to get my father out. If anything happens, it's because of me. Because I served this military."

Because his family did contract work for the U.S. government, Safi fears they are now Taliban targets.

RELATED: Former interpreter explains dire fate for Afghans who assisted US troops

He also described his family as a political family, having relatives- including an uncle- who is a senator.

"I lost a lot of family in this 20 years. I don't want to lose anyone anymore," he told ABC7 News.

Beyond working to get his father and extended family to the United States, Safi and the mother of two of his children are launching an effort called The Tear Catcher Foundation. The effort focuses on delivering basic necessities including water, food, and shelter to Afghans.