Ziaulhaq Ghafoori (Booyah)
Ziaulhaq “Booyah” Ghafoori is the President and CEO of the Interpreting Freedom Foundation which is a Non-Profit Organization that honors the service of interpreters and advocates for their needs. Booyah is a Special Immigrant Visa recipient from Afghanistan who served as a combat interpreter and a cultural adviser assigned to U.S. Army Special Forces from 2003 to 2014.
Despite the death threats he received from individuals within Afghanistan, he continued to dedicate his time and service to helping the U.S. military and its mission. Booyah also served as the Vice President of a logistics company that facilitated inter-governmental logistical services in the Central Asian Region.
Booyah knows all too well about war and its effects on people. Perhaps one of the most life-defining moments of Booyah’s life was on April 6, 2008, when he accompanied a combined team of Special Operations Command and Afghan Commandos in the Nuristan Province Shok Valley to capture a high-level target. His team fought for almost seven hours and Booyah lost his best friend and fellow interpreter, CK. Despite this, he pushed through the battle and helped carry his wounded team members to safety for the next six hours. After the battle ended many in the combined force were wounded and many of the U.S. service members received awards and medals.
At CK’s funeral, as a sign of respect and solidarity, Booyah and Co-Founder Bahroz Mohmand along with other interpreters were given commemorative purple hearts from the team commander. Booyah was awarded a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman Badge for being wounded in action and carrying wounded soldiers to safety.
Today Booyah has made a home here in the United States. He has increased his network of friends and supporters and has found his calling in advocating and helping his fellow interpreters and American veterans. In the end he says, “I will be available for them to help them again and again.”
Afghan translator for U.S. Special Forces becomes U.S. citizen
Zia “Booyah” Ghafoori took the pledge Thursday in Charlotte.
The pledge to become an American Citizen took only a few moments, but getting to this moment was years in the making for Zia “Booyah” Ghafoori.
Standing with 90 other people from 45 other nations Ghafoori and others stood together to become Americans inside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Charlotte Field Office Thursday.
“I was on the front-line.”
Ghafoori’s family fled Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power. Shortly after 9-11 he came back to interpret for the American Special Forces going to “the front lines.” Awarded a Purple Heart for his service, Ghafoori applied for Special Immigrant Visa bringing him and his family to Charlotte.
“We help all those guys that they left behind.”
Ghafoori started a non-profit, Interpreting Freedom Foundation, to help brave men and women like him who are still serving with U.S. Forces. “They deserve to be here. They’re still struggling with their life and they’re hiding from the Taliban, and Isis.”
Now, fully American, Ghafoori takes a moment to reflect on his journey here.
“My dream from there, and that dream became true today. I am proud to be an American.