After the publication of my review of his enthralling and inspiring book Special Forces Interpreter, I had the privilege of being in touch Eddie Idrees. He agreed to answer a few questions and I am extremely grateful and happy to publish the content of this exchange today, as we commemorate Remembrance Day. I am sure you will appreciate this content as much as I liked conducting the interview.
President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was a betrayal.
Mr. Idrees, how did you feel about the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan last summer?
In short, it was a betrayal. President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, was not only a betrayal to me and millions of other Afghans, but to the Americans, the families who lost loved ones, to the Canadians who lost their lives in Kandahar or the Brits in Helmand. It was a betrayal of the cause. I felt like Biden allowed a terrorist network to win and gave psychological victory to the rest of the terrorist networks in the West and the Middle East. I have so much to say, but this was a historic betrayal of American values.
Do you have friends who are still trapped in Afghanistan? If so, are you hopeful they will be able to get out eventually?
I have friends, family and colleagues who are still stuck in Afghanistan. Thanks to Biden, I already lost many colleagues and family members executed by the Taliban for working for the NATO forces.
My father is my hero. He believes that I did fight for a good cause, he himself, fought ignorance for over 30 years.
In your book, I felt you have a very strong connection with your father. What does he think about all the impressive work you accomplished for your country with the Americans and the British?
My father is my hero. He believes that I did fight for a good cause, he himself, fought ignorance for over 30 years. He is proud of what we did, my brother and I.
The SAS are truly the best in the world. The way they operate is on a different level.
On page p. 85, you write: “That was typical of the SAS: the more dangerous the operation, the more excited they would be. This excitement and high morale always made me feel safe. There was no better team to go to such dangerous places than the glorious British SAS.” Between the lines, I felt you have lots of admiration for the SAS. Were they the best soldiers you worked with?
The SAS are truly the best in the world. The way they operate is on a different level. I cannot go on about the details and the way they do things, but I must say that ever step they take, they think about it over and over and because of their commitment towards their skill over time, they execute their mission perfectly. What I most love about the SAS I worked with, that despite being the best in what they do, they are amazing human beings. They have been mentors to me, and I have learned a great deal from them.
Were you able to stay in touch with some of the soldiers you served with as an interpreter?
Yes, I am still in touch with a few of my colleagues.
Given the possibility, would you return to active service with the SAS or another military entity?
I think when you want to do something, you need to commit to it. You must give it all and I believe that I cannot give it all or be as good as I was, this is due to age and other personal commitments. I am still fighting for the same cause I believe in, but through other means.
I am a night owl. I would say I am more productive when I am in the mountains or somewhere where there is only nature and me.
Could you tell us more about how you wrote the book? For example, are you a night owl or an early bird, how long did it take you to write it, how did you like the whole experience?
I am a night owl. I would say I am more productive when I am in the mountains or somewhere where there is only nature and me. I wrote this book mostly when I was alone and in places where I do not belong. It took me a few months to write it, and if I had to do this again, I would take longer, and this probably would be a longer book.
Do you like to read about military history? If so, what are your favorite books on the subject?
I am very interested in reading about insurgency and counterinsurgency. I read books on psychological operations, perception management and history. The first book I read was Ghost Wars and my last favourite book – Team of Teams by retired General Stanley McCrystal.
President George W. Bush gave Afghans a taste of freedom.
You are referring to President George W. Bush in your book in a positive manner. Do you think he did the right thing when he decided to intervene in Afghanistan? And what is your overall opinion of that president?
He absolutely did! His decision to intervene, gave Afghans a taste of freedom, an opportunity to change Afghanistan from an unaware, isolated nation to a democracy. Theses 20 years allowed the new generation, which is about 60% of the country, to see and learn from the rest of the world. Was it not for President Bush’ decision, we could not have had that opportunity.
Is there a military leader in history that you admire in a particular way? And could you tell me more about why?
Winston Churchill was a great man and an absolute hero! The way he led his nation to victory, his commitment toward the cause and motivating his nation in the way he did, was brilliant! So, he will remain a figure that I will always respect.
Who is the most famous / known military figure you served with in Afghanistan (if you are permitted to tell, of course)?
There are a few and they are still in service. Therefore, I cannot name them.
I know this might be a tough one of answer. You served with both the US Army and the British Army. Which one did you prefer and why?
To be honest, I enjoyed working for both, more with British Forces due the way they treated me. Having said that, I have the utmost respect for the US Forces who served in Afghanistan.
I am writing another book. I have kept it secret, but I have been working on it for the past month now.
Do you plan to write another book and, in the affirmative, what will it be about?
So, I am writing another book. I have kept it secret, but I have been working on it for the past month now. It will be a good few months before it’s ready. It is about Afghanistan; I am writing about certain facts which is not known to many. Overall, my goal is to write one nonfiction (which I did), one fiction and one research based. After that, who knows.
Sgt Nathan Cox was working with the Afghan army with a passion which I rarely saw in the eyes of Afghans.
As we are commemorating Remembrance Day today. Is there anyone you will remember particularly?
Although remembrance isn’t about Afghanistan, I always celebrate it by remembering many of my friends who lost their lives, including Sgt Nathan Cox. My first friend who lost his life in Afghanistan. He was an extremely kind man! He loved Afghanistan and he came back and was working with the Afghan army with a passion which I rarely saw in the eyes of Afghans. He was one of those people who truly believed in the possibility of an Afghanistan free of terrorism. I loved him like a brother!
Many sincere thanks for the generosity of your tine Mr. Idrees and please be assured that it’s a real honour to be in touch with you.
Lest We Forget!