The last words of a heroic Iraqi interpreter who sacrificed himself to save American soldiers from a suicide bomber were: “Take care of my son. Take care of my wife.”
The bomber detonated his vest during a vehicle inspection near the Syrian border in September 2007, and Barakat Ali Bashar put himself in harm’s way to protect Staff Sgt. Jay McBride. Bashar, a new father of only a week, died at a military hospital in Mosul.
Bashar, know as “Andy”, served as an interpreter for U.S. Special Forces fighting Al Qaeda in northern Iraq. Although his family received some financial compensation from the U.S. government, they remained in Iraq where they were in danger because of Bashar’s work.
in 2015, McBride and other U.S. veterans began writing letters in support of an application for a special visa to bring Bashar’s family of ethnic Yazidis — including his widow, son, mother and brother — to America, after McBride heard they’d fled their home near Mount Sinjar to escape Islamic State terrorists and were living at a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Bashar “never faltered in his commitment to help American forces, even after his family was threatened and their names were placed on a list that was circulated around the region describing him as a traitor for supporting American forces,” Sgt. 1st Class Michael Swett, another Special Forces soldier, wrote in support of the family. “He believed in the American dream even more than we did. Unfortunately, [Bashar] never realized his opportunity to see the country that he sacrificed so much for.”
“We, the people of the United States of America, put this family at risk and I feel it is our duty as a civilized nation to [ensure] their safety,” Army Master Sgt. Todd West wrote in a separate letter.
McBride served three tours to Iraq in 2003-09 with the 10th Special Forces Group. He has stayed in touch with another linguist, Hadi Pir, and was heartened when he came to the United States under a program that provided visas for Iraqis who had worked with U.S. forces.
“These guys see more combat than Special Forces operators,” McBride said. “It’s great to see them get rewarded for their effort.”