Escaping the Taliban

Tufts Now All Stories

When Arslan Muradi, F17, returned to his family home in Afghanistan in the summer of 2013, he had no idea the visit would be his last. Muradi was then on break from his undergraduate studies at Hampshire College, just one year away from completing his bachelor’s degree in international relations and heading to the Fletcher School for graduate work. But while Muradi had been studying in America, something terrible had happened: the Taliban had added his name to a list.“We didn’t want to tell you when you were at school,” Muradi’s parents told him that summer, “but we have been getting threat letters from the Taliban, saying that your son has been working with the Americans, living in America and is an infidel.” The Taliban was “essentially saying if there’s any harm done, they’ll know why,” Muradi recalled. “So my father asked me not to come home after my studies were done.”
Muradi did not return, but that didn’t placate the Taliban. His college education wasn’t the only thing that had landed him on their list—he had also worked as an interpreter for the United States government. In the fall of 2013, the Taliban killed his uncle. In March of 2014, they killed his father.
Muradi’s losses were devastating, but he could not afford to collapse in grief. His mother and five siblings were still in danger, and he had to get them out of Afghanistan. Although Muradi wasn’t sure how to do that from more than 6,000 miles away, a community of Hampshire and Fletcher faculty—as well as a small army of immigration lawyers and local politicians—rallied around him to get his family to safety.
Muradi’s connection to Fletcher ran back to 2004. That’s when Ted Achilles, F62, visited his high school in Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, to recruit …

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