SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A Utah family is working tirelessly to save an Afghan family from Taliban rule.
That family is currently in hiding.
ABC4 spoke with the former Utah National Guardsmen who first met them some years ago.
He said he needs help from Utahns to be able to accomplish this mission.
This is an immense challenge, but Eric Eliason, the former Utah National Guardsman and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said it is his mission to save the mother and her three teenage kids from the Taliban rule.
There is a lot of information we can’t discuss due to the security of this situation.
However, Eliason told ABC4 some years ago while he was deployed in Afghanistan, he met a man who is under the pseudonym Taroon.
Taroon and Eliason became very close until Eliason left Afghanistan.
Eliason said he was told he was going to Afghanistan to work with the locals and help train the Afghan Security Forces.
This job took Eliason all around the country.
“As a chaplain, one of my main jobs was to make sure that everybody regardless of religious background would have the material that they needed,” said Eliason.
One of the people Eliason met and trained to become a chaplain was a man we were told to call Taroon.
Taroon was a Muslim pastor who abandoned the extremist views of the Taliban so he could turn his back on them and help defeat them.
“In one way I took him under my wing and in another way he was an advisor to me,” said Eliason.
Eliason said he would chat with Taroon every day for months about work, religion, and on the rare occasion, family.
Eliason said to this day he misses those talks.
“So it wasn’t until just mid-august that I was contacted by cell phone by his son,” said Eliason.
Eliason and Taroon parted ways some years ago and Eliason had not heard from him since.
“The first thing I heard that was because of this work several years after we left, the Taliban assassinated him.
Eliason said the Taliban had left signs on Taroon’s door that said they were going to kill his children.
Taroon sent them away into hiding and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his family.
“I kept thinking I don’t know what I can do,” said Andrea Befus, “I have never been here, and I love these people I feel helpless.”
Eliason and his niece Andrea Befus teamed up and they, along with several other current and former soldiers and transportation professionals are working to get Taroon’s family out of hiding and help them seek refuge in the United States.
“Every day we wait is a day the Taliban may get to them before we do,” said Eliason.
Every day Eliason and his team are in talks with Taroon’s family of three teenagers and their mom, to get them the help they desperately need.
“Because we are Americans, that’s what we do,” said Befus.
Taroon’s family tried to get out when the flights were leaving the Kabul airport in August but were unable to.
They are currently in hiding.
Eliason is calling on Utahns and government leaders to help support the family in getting to the U.S.
The fundraiser link is here.