Allies Left Behind? Iraqis Who Helped U.S. Feel 'Betrayed,' Marked for Death

Man seeks to bring pro-American Iraqis to U.S., but says "politics" get in way.

ByABC News
July 13, 2007, 4:12 PM

July 15, 2007 — -- Kirk Johnson is the keeper of what he calls the saddest list in the world -- a list of Iraqis who worked for the United States but are now marked for death and on the run.

Johnson says that the U.S. effort in Iraq "would not have functioned without these people. And they risk their lives every single day to come through checkpoints that are routinely mortared and shelled and hit by suicide bombers and snipers just to come and help us -- because they believe in America enough to help us rebuild their country."

Many of these Iraqis fled their country after they got letters that describe them as "enemies of God," as well as blunt threats: "We will cut off your heads."

Watch Dan Harris' report on Iraq's pro-U.S. refugees. Check your local listings for air time.

All are now desperate to come to the United States, and Kirk Johnson is the man they are turning to.

"This is urgent," he says. "This isn't, 'Let's have a meeting once a month to figure out how we are going to address the issue.' This is, 'Let's get them on a plane to save them because they need our help now.'"

Johnson spent a year in Iraq for the U.S. government. He worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, including a long stint in the dangerous Fallujah area, trying to aid Iraqis in rebuilding their war-torn country.

When Johnson got home, he was contacted by some former Iraqi colleagues looking for help -- including "Ibrahim" who had fled to Egypt after getting a death threat. Ibrahim also has a brain tumor and is desperate for better medical care than he can get in Egypt as a refugee.

"Of course, I miss my family," he says. "My whole life turned down upon. I am sick. I am alone. Every day, I wake up I ask my God why am I still alive."

Johnson went to his congressman in an effort to help people like "Ibrahim," then to the State Department. But he got nowhere.

In frustration, Johnson wrote opinion pieces in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. After that, he was contacted by scores of other Iraqis who had worked for the United States and were desperate for help. Many had been tortured or raped, or had family members killed or kidnapped.

His list now has more than 500 names. And Johnson is hearing from more desperate Iraqis almost every day. (For more on Johnson's list go to