Matt Zeller, an Army veteran and former CIA officer, made it his personal mission to bring his Afghan interpreter, Janis Shinwari, and his family to the United States. Shinwari had saved Zeller's life on the battlefield years earlier, and Zeller knew that those who had worked with the U.S., including his friend, were targets of the Taliban for aiding the enemy.
After years of bureaucratic red tape, road blocks and disappointment in securing a visa, Zeller and Shinwari were reunited in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night. They shared their story on HuffPost Live.
"I'm feeling very happy," Shinwari explained to host Alyona Minkovski. "I'm feeling good because now here, we are free. We live without the fear. In Afghanistan, we had fear. We had a hard time and now, I'm feeling very, very happy here."
Despite the years of issues securing his visa, Shinwari never doubted that Zeller was working to help him.
"When I was in Afghanistan and I heard something about my visa, there was some issue, I knew that somebody is here to fight for me, my brother Zeller. And finally, he did. And what he promised, he did. He made it."
Zeller added, "I feel like a kid on Christmas morning! There's a tension that I've had with me for five years, and I finally have this profound sigh of relief. I mean, he's the last member of my unit that was still deployed, and now he's home, so we can finally start celebrating. We've got everybody home now."
"I can't wait to take him and his kids to see the ocean for the first time. And we're in D.C. We're going to go see the White House. I'm sitting next to him in my car -- this is the craziest thing in the world!"
While Zeller planned to take his friend sightseeing, Shinwari had other concerns. "First of all, I'm trying to find a good house, and after that, a good job for me." He continued, "I'm trying to find the same job that I did back in Afghanistan, interpretation, because it's my profession and I'm a good interpreter. I will talk to my brother Zeller. If he can find me the same job here, that would be very nice."
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