The movie “Lone Survivor” just came out on DVD two weeks ago and its blockbuster status continues. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, it’s the story of Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. In 2005, a four-man U.S. Navy SEAL recon team had its mission compromised by Afghan goat herders who, when released, informed the Taliban of their location. The four team members, Michael Murphy, Danny Deitz, Matt Axelson, and Marcus Luttrell fought valiantly but three of the four were killed, leaving Luttrell as the “lone survivor.”
Luttrell survived only because of a centuries-old tribal code of honor called “Pashtunwali” which mandates Pashtuns afford protection to anyone in need. And so it was that Luttrell was found by a Pashtun village leader by the name of Mohammad Gulab and taken in – risking his own life in doing so.
Gulab considered it his sacred duty under that tribal code and when the Taliban came to demand that he hand over Luttrell, Gulab refused. The Taliban persisted, alternating between promises of money and threats to murder him and the rest of the village. None of it changed Gulab’s mind. He and his neighbors remained steadfast.
However, in a twist of fate, it seems Gulab is now the “lone survivor.”
As reported by vocativ.com, Gulab was granted a Visa to come to America as part of the movie release but returned back to Afghanistan. Before his flight touched down in Kabul, a pirated copy of the movie had already reached the Taliban in Kunar province. And as soon as he was home, the death threats began. Gulab says he has changed phones and SIM cards dozens of times. Somehow the callers always manage to discover his new number. “Soon we will blow you to hell,” they warned.The callers, Gulab says, told him that the Taliban’s district commander, Mullah Nasrullah, is furious that his fighters have failed to kill him. Weeks ago, Nasrullah reportedly issued a harsh reprimand to his chief of operations in Asadabad, demanding to know why Luttrell’s savior was still alive. “Just send a suicide bomber and hit him,” Nasrullah ordered, the callers told Gulab. The district commander even phoned once to berate him personally, Gulab says. “The man you protected was an American soldier, not a Muslim,” Nasrullah complained. “There was nothing honorable about what you did.” Gulab disagrees: “I told the commander the man I saved was a human being. The question of honor has nothing to do with his religion. It’s about humanity and self-respect.” Gulab wants to move to America, but worries he’s running out of time. “My life,” he says, “is in worse danger than ever.” Gulab was hoping to stay in America and acquire a green card. He says Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger and Luttrell tried to help him do so, and that the retired SEAL later advised him to seek asylum. But Gulab decided against it, believing if U.S. officials granted his request, he could never return home. Now he’s back in Afghanistan as hopes for ever getting a green card dim.
Consider the fate of the Pakistani man who helped identify the location of Osama bin Laden. He’s in jail. Now consider the perilous situation in which Mohammad Gulab finds himself and his family. If we as a nation keep turning our backs on those who risk all for us, one day no one will risk anything.
If in America we will bend over backwards to afford rights and benefits to illegal aliens and captured terrorists — then why can’t we do better by this man, Mohammad Gulab? I bet a nice place up in Montana would be welcomed by him and his family — it would remind him of the mountains of Kunar province, but give him peace and solace.
It’s ironic that so many have made millions of dollars on his “random act of kindness and courage.” Quite sure someone in Hollywood could find it within themselves to share that benefit, since they were not willing to share in the risk.