‘WHEN the Taliban come they won’t ask to see my contract,” says Hamid Amiri. “Everyone knows I was working for the British.”

The father-of-four spent 15 years aiding UK authorities in Afghanistan as a bodyguard, training instructor and more. He had a pass to enter British Embassy grounds in Kabul, worked with soldiers, protected ­dignitaries.

Now UK forces have withdrawn from his country, his contract is over and the Taliban is swiftly regaining territory it was once pushed out of.

But Amiri and his family remain in Kabul, where their hopes of getting out have been dashed.

The National:

They’ve been told they’re not ­eligible to be brought to safety ­under the UK’s Afghan Relocations and ­Assistance Policy (Arap), which aims to “accelerate the pace of ­locations” of the current or former local staff deemed to be “under serious threat to life” from militia groups due to services given.

The scheme is offering these people “priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served”.

But that doesn’t include anyone employed via a contractor.

The National:

In an official rejection letter, ­issued from the same British Embassy where he used to work, Arap told Amiri: “We realise this will be disappointing news.”

But he doesn’t feel disappointed, he feels scared. “We are targets,” he says.

The Arap letter states: “You do not meet the criteria for the ­following ­reasons: because you were not ­directly employed by Her Majesty’s Government”.

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“I’ve done a great job for these ­people for years,” Amiri says. “With honesty, with enthusiasm, but they don’t care about that.” Former ­colleagues got the same letter on the same day, he says. “Some times our families blame us, they say ‘how come we are still here?’”

Ataullah Yaqubi is one of these former colleagues. He also has young children, a daughter and a son, and worked as a government ­liaison ­officer, facilitating visas and registering personnel across departments. Foreign and Commonwealth Office-stamped documents seen by the Sunday National identify him as “working for the British Embassy in Kabul”. He’d also worked as an armed close protection officer – ­during which time he helped secure the release of kidnapped gurkhas – and like Amiri has given permission for his identity to be published in this article because he says his work was never secret.

The National:

“When I applied for the visa I was very hopeful,” he says. “Because of the nature of the work I have done for the British Embassy, I thought I’d be the first one accepted.

“I don’t see any logic behind this decision. If terrorist groups come will they check if my employment was ­direct or indirect?

“We are in extreme danger.”

Danger is indeed live in ­Afghanistan today. Last week the Taliban said it was responsible for the abduction and killing of tiktok comic Khasha Zwan, known for his risque jokes and witty songs. Zwan, whose real name was Nazar Mohammad, was taken in the Kandahar province. His treatment was recorded and went viral online.

TALIBAN spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it wasn’t his comedy that led to his targeting, it was links to foreign forces. According to Mujahid, the entertainer was also a member of the Afghan National Police and had been implicated in the torture and killing of Taliban members.

He was supposed to have been ­arrested for trial rather than killed outright, Mujahid claimed. The two men who carried out that act will now themselves be tried by the group.

Colonel Ahmad Muslem Hayat, former defence attache at the Afghan Embassy in London, recruited Amiri, Yaqubi and many others, selecting them for their skills and reliability. “They are very trusted people,” he tells the Sunday National. “Some of them did this work for 18 years.

“The Taliban have information about all of these guys. It is well known. This is unbelievable.”

Earlier last week former ­military commanders called on the UK ­Government to admit more Afghans into the relocation programme.

The MoD says it’s already helped more than 2200 former staff and their families to resettle in the UK.

But a group including ex-Defence Minister Johnny Mercer, who served in Helmand, and former military leaders told the Prime Minister they are “gravely concerned” that this does not go far enough.

The National: Johnny Mercer

Johnny Mercer

Their concerns lie with the safety of former interpreters who have been “unnecessarily and unreasonably” rejected, according to the ­signatories, who include ex-national security ­adviser Lord Rickett, former British Army heads Sir Peter Wall and Lord Dannatt and four former chiefs of ­defence staff, lords Boyce, Houghton, Richards and Stirrup.

“If any of our former ­interpreters are murdered by the Taliban in the wake of our withdrawal, the ­dishonour would lay squarely at our nation’s feet,” they said.

That letter was coordinated by the Sulha Alliance campaign, which is run by ex-British officers and claims the UK expects to relocate a maximum of 800 interpreters and their families through Arap.

However, around 3000 people did that job the Sulha Alliance says so the scheme must be opened up.

AMIRI and Yaqubi hope they can secure enough help to mount a campaign for indirectly employed personnel.

“It seems the British Government doesn’t value 1.5 decades of work in a very hostile environment,” he says. “Many times we were a minute away from explosions, a few metres away from assassinations. We have done the same work as the directly employed. What makes us ­different? I am in shock at this decision. I just want to take my family to a safe place. We know there will be ­targeting of people who worked for the international community.”

According to not-for-profit group No One Left Behind, at least 300 Afghans or their relatives have been killed for working with the US.

It was the US-led invasion of ­Afghanistan that removed the ­Taliban from power after the 9/11 attacks and ­Abdul Bostani of Glasgow Afghan United, which is currently seeking help for Amiri, Yaqubi and others, says it “hurts” to see what’s happening in his homeland.

“If there’s a school they burn it, if there’s a bridge they bomb it,” he says of the Taliban.

“They are advancing all the time. It’s very upsetting.”

The charity says it’s learned of as many as 50 men in the same position as the two ex-bodyguards.

“These are very brave people who put themselves on the line to work with the British for peace in Afghanistan,” he says. “Not everyone would do this, but they did.

“Their services should be ­recognised and rewarded, they and their children and wives should not be left to face danger alone in an ­increasingly hostile environment.

“It is not right that the UK ­Government ignores the very workers it relied upon to protect its people. We are saying to Prime Minister ­Boris Johnson, please do the right thing and honour their service by bringing them to safety.”

Calling Arap “one of the most ­generous” programmes of its kind in the world after 1000 arrivals, a ­government spokesperson said it ­cannot comment on individual cases, but added: “Nobody’s life should be put at risk because they supported the UK Government in Afghanistan.” They went on: “We carefully assess each application.”