Young Afghan Men Risk Their Lives For America

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 12:33 AM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

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March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 12:33 AM EDT


Summary: BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- The war in Iraq and the horrors of 9-11 have painted a negative picture of the Middle East for many Americans, and not just of the terrorists but also of the civilians there.

Two young men, Shah and Nisar, grew up in Afghanistan and are opening up for the first time publicly about their experience there helping the U.S. Military and how there's a growing number of civilians who are helping American soldiers fight terrorists.

"Basically being a Muslim is a stereotype to be a terrorist. Afghan people are not Taliban or Al Qaeda either. They are not the ones who do all these criminal activities in Afghanistan. {Terrorists} just defame the name of Islam, our religion, and our people," Nisar said. "Are the number of people growing in Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban? Of course. I myself... I'm a Muslim and I've fought against the Taliban side by side with U.S. Army."

"We are sick of war, we are sick of...sick of corruption in Afghanistan or anywhere else," Shah said. "We want peace, we want brotherhood, and we want unity."

The two men fought together with the U.S. Military for years as linguists. During that time they were targeted and attacked repeatedly because they were helping America.

"I got hurt pretty bad," Nisar said. "Got hit by IED."

Nisar was seriously injured by the explosion. He was given two purple hearts for his bravery, and both men received many awards for their work with the U.S. Military. Shah and Nisar were given a special immigrant visa to move to the United States and did so within the last two years. "We are happy to be in the U.S. to go to school, to have the opportunity to make something of ourselves down the road," Nisar said.

A Buffalo business man decided to take them under his wing and set them up with housing, jobs, and getting them into the education system. "They needed to leave for their own safety," Dan Irwin, with CJ IRWIN Company, said. "After you get to know them you just figure they're over here by themselves, they have no family, nothing."

The two men now speak at schools locally about their experience and also keep in touch with people back in the Middle East, educating them about the realities of the world and America. "Islam, the name of our religion, does not...allow violence of any kind," Nisar said. "I'm a Muslim, I'm proud of my religion, and I know that it's a peace religion."

"If we are educated and have the knowledge and we can distinguish between good and bad... that means we can do anything in our interest and our national interest and to the world interest," Shah said.