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Fleeing War, Killed in America: Crime Wave Brutalizes Working Class Refugees and Migrants
Immigrants driving for Uber, working at gas stations, and delivering food are the voiceless victims of America's crime wave.
Nasratullah Ahmadyar, a former interpreter for U.S. Special Forces, fled a near-certain death at the hands of the Taliban, only to die slumped over in his car, murdered over the Fourth of July weekend by a group of teenagers in Washington, D.C., at an intersection just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court.
Ahmadyar began working at Bagram air base near Kabul as a groundskeeper before taking on jobs with the American military. He was a dedicated family man, a father of four. According to friends, he arrived as a refugee in the United States two years ago on the last plane out of Afghanistan.
Initially, Ahmadyar settled in Philadelphia but left the city after he was robbed at gunpoint. He moved to Alexandria, Virginia, and worked 12 hours a day as a driver.
"He was so happy he got a new car because he could take care of his family," Rahim Amini, a friend of the family, told the local CBS News affiliate. "His wife asked him to stay home but he said, 'I have to pay rent. I don't have that much money. I have to work.'"
Security camera footage shows a group of young boys firing a shot into his vehicle and scrambling away, down an alley. “You killed him!” one of the teenagers can be heard yelling. Whether the teenagers were attempting a carjacking or robbery or something else is unclear. Both crimes have skyrocketed since 2020, especially in Washington, D.C., and disturbingly, with young perpetrators. Ahmadyar’s killers have not been apprehended.
Ahmadyar, who was driving an extra late night shift for Lyft to support his family when he was killed, is one of many victims of America’s violent crime wave. His story is far from alone. The crime wave has disproportionately affected working-class communities, especially immigrants, and tragically, those fleeing war abroad are ending up at the brutal frontlines of this violent epidemic:
– Parveen Singh, a 27-year-old immigrant from India, was killed during a robbery of a gas station in Hesperia, Calif. on June 29, 2023. The suspect, a 16-year-old from nearby Victorville, was reportedly arrested a block away.
– Mandeep Singh, an immigrant from India, was murdered on June 28, 2023, in Wrens, Georgia during a robbery of a convenience store, where Singh worked as a clerk. Police have arrested the assailants, identified as two 15-year-olds.
– Saiesh Veera, a 24-year-old immigrant from India pursuing a master's degree, was murdered on April 10, 2023, during a robbery. Veera worked at a Shell gas station in Colombus, Ohio.
– Marvin Enrique Bardales Valle, an immigrant from Honduras, was murdered by a passenger on March 8, 2023, in New Orleans while driving for Uber. Valle's family said he worked construction during the day and drove gig jobs at night, sending money back to his family in Honduras. A suspect, 19-year-old Tarius Tully, has been arrested and charged with the killing.
– Jiabin Lin, an immigrant from China, was killed during a food delivery in Bridgeport, Connecticut on March 5, 2023. The alleged killer, a 17-year-old, reportedly shot Lin multiple times in the back. A GoFundMe was created to send his body back to China for burial.
– Sueng Choi, a 67-year-old immigrant from Korea, was murdered on March 3, 2023, when a gunman robbed his deli on the Upper East Side in New York City. Choi's suspected killer, Kimond Cyrus, is wanted in connection with other robberies across the city.
– Patro Siboram, a 66-year-old immigrant from India working as a clerk at an ExxonMobil gas station in Philadelphia, was murdered by three masked men during a robbery on January 17, 2023. The suspects reportedly seized a cash register and shot Patro in the back.
– Ainzurgal Totakhil, a refugee from Afghanistan who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military, was murdered while driving for Uber in Durham, North Carolina, on Dec. 30, 2022. He settled in North Carolina to be close to his American friends stationed at Fort Bragg. Totakhil was murdered just two weeks after becoming an American citizen. He leaves behind his seven children and his wife, who was pregnant with his eighth child when was killed.
– Vishal Patel, an immigrant from India, was killed by two 15-year-olds during a robbery of a Kwik Sak gas station in Hermitage, Tenn. on Nov. 28, 2022. The same teenagers are also implicated in a robbery of a 7-Eleven gas station nearby, where they allegedly took cash from the register at gunpoint.
– Parmvir Singh, an immigrant from India, was killed via gruesome execution-style murder on the morning of Sept. 11, 2022, during a robbery. The killing at the Chevron gas station in Tupelo, Miss., was captured on a security camera. Chris Copeland, who was later convicted for the slaying, had an extensive criminal history and was on probation at the time of the shooting.
– Kon Fung, an immigrant from Hong Kong, was murdered during a robbery while driving for Uber on July 17, 2022. ABC7 News reported that Fung was getting in his vehicle when two men in downtown Oakland, Calif., ambushed him and within five seconds, Fung was killed. Police later arrested two suspects, one of whom is a juvenile.
– Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, an Afghan refugee who was driving for Uber and Lyft, was sleeping in his car after a long day of work next to James Rolph Jr. park in San Francisco when he was murdered during an attempted robbery on Nov. 28, 2021. Yusufi, a former translator for the U.S. military, lived in Sacramento but frequently drove to the Bay Area for gig work opportunities. Yusufi’s murderer, Clifford Stokes, had been imprisoned on an illegal gun charge but was released by a federal judge earlier that year over a claim that San Francisco police had used an unlawful search of his vehicle.
– Abu Sala Miah, also known as Salauddin Bablu, a 51-year-old who fled political persecution in Bangladesh, was stabbed to death over the weekend of October 16, 2021. Sala was a delivery worker for GrubHub who worked 10-12 hour days to support his wife and two children in Bangladesh. The suspects in his slaying attempted to steal his e-bike and reportedly stabbed him in the face and stomach.
– Mohammad Anwar, a Pakistani immigrant and driver for Uber Eats, was killed during an attempted carjacking in Washington D.C., on March 23, 2021. Video captured by a bystander shows two teen girls seizing Anwar's car, driving it away while dragging his body. After crashing the vehicle, one of the girls steps over Anwar’s mangled body, screaming, “Where’s my phone?”
– Esam Musleh and his 1-year-old daughter Alia Musleh were burned to death in Oakland, Calif. on April 19, 2021. Musleh, a cashier at the Booker's Liquor store, was reportedly followed home by gang members who mistakenly targeted him as part of a retaliatory attack on a rival gang. The assailants set fire to the liquor store and to Musleh’s home. He came to the U.S. to escape the war in Yemen. "We run from Yemen because of the war," said Mohammed Alsamma, a cousin of Musleh, speaking to reporters after his death. "We thought we are safe here, but death followed us to this place."
– Cherno Ceesay, a 28-year-old immigrant from Gambia and Uber driver, was stabbed to death by passengers attempting to steal his car on December 13, 2020, in Issaquah, Washington. The car crashed and the passengers reportedly stole his phone.
Many of these murders do not fit neatly into the partisan discourse. Leading left-wing activist groups that supposedly champion the lives of marginalized communities are silent about the slaying of Ahmadyar and other working-class victims. He was not killed by a white supremacist, nor by police, therefore his death does not fit a convenient progressive political narrative. Conservative voices that champion public safety have been less than eager to discuss the fact that refugees and migrants working low-income jobs tend to be the most vulnerable.
The bloodshed on the streets of America is complex and multifactorial, driven in part by a culture that valorizes violence and excuses theft, by poverty, by organized crime, by the availability of guns and by other forces. In many cases, the breakdown in trust between police departments and local communities – exacerbated by billionaire-funded media outlets and activists — has led to less effective criminal investigations, allowing repeat criminals to continue terrorizing rideshare drivers and gas station clerks. The fallout from America’s elite-driven, anti-policing politics has also led to an officer shortfall across the country, a dynamic that has slowed 911 response times and impeded proactive policing.
All too often, hard-working men like Ahmadyar pay the price of America’s violent crime crisis, a problem that has persisted here and is unlike any other wealthy industrialized country.
Image of Nasratullah Ahmadyar released by WUSA9.