|Strictly Business Magazine|
|Strictly Business Magazine
A division of S&S Enterprises, a Floyd Snyder Production.
Santa Maria, California.
|Heroic Escape from Tyranny to Freedom
By Jack Pellerin --December 1995
Mohammmad Mohabbat was born in Afghanistan in 1947, the son of an Afghanistan army general. He achieved honors as one of the top ten students in the region and came to the U.S.A. as a 16 year old exchange student in 1963. His adoptive host parents in Great Bend, Kansas, were Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Nelson. This visit was most pleasant for Mohammad and the Nelson family and created the basis for assistance to be eventually needed in the future. A second visit to America in 1973 was made to become better informed in Mohammad’s chosen field. As a hydroelectric plant was scheduled to be built, he came to our country to meet with major American contractors to learn of their products and equipment which would be utilized for his country’s plant. Upon his return, he continued his hard work as a professional electrical engineer. In 1976, he married Sharifa and they now have two teenage sons - Masoud and Mahmoud.
During this second return to his native country, it became even more apparent that sympathizers and promoters of communism were making big strides in anti-Americanism. Mohammad became quite concerned and was positive that serious troubles and violence were on the horizon. He also knew that his visits to the U.S.A., including mementos, news clippings and photos with Lyndon Johnson and other Americans would place him in a precarious situation. All this proved to be true following the Russian invasion in 1979.
One night armed soldiers broke into his home and during their search found his American mementos and took Mohammad into custody. A week of torture included beatings, electric shocks, kickings and his fingernails pried off. Most of this torturing was done while Mohammad was blindfolded, and he couldn’t see his attackers or anticipate their actions. He was then released without any confessions or confirmation of any guilt. However, the new regime confiscated all their possessions and he was placed under house arrest. With virtually no home, his future looked hopeless. He and his family moved in with Sharifa’s parents and considered two options…living on his knees or dying on his feet. Escape to freedom with all its major risks was chosen. Mohammad then purposely gained 30 pounds, grew a beard, trained his sons not to call him “Daddy”, and did whatever possible to disguise himself. He was successful in obtaining a false visa. He then took his family to the highly-guarded airport. Sharifa and their two sons passed security, but a soldier was suspicious of Mohammad and detained him. Mohammad thought that this was the end of his life until miraculously, an Afghani officer intervened and passed him through. The officer took him aside, said he knew who he was, and was doing this to repay a past favor, although Mohammad had no memory of every meeting him
They stayed in India for six months with no money, no home, no job, no possessions and an expired visa while waiting for the U.S. Government to grant him political asylum. They feared that they would be caught and deported to Afghanistan. Their one and only hope was the Nelson host family in Kansas, who had provided Mohammad with a home when he was 16 year old foreign exchange student many years ago. Mohammad had to delve through his memory while in India to come up with fragments that eventually pieced together to form an address.
Mohammad and his family cam to the U.S. in 1981 and stayed with the Nelsons, who had moved to Arkansas. The Nelsons generously provided adequate funds to feed and shelter the Mohabbats while they spend two months looking for a permanent location. Their friends in Kansas joined with the Nelsons providing help and guidance. During this time, Enron Corportion was looking for an electrical engineer and heard about Mohammad and hired him. They then went to Kansas for about 18 months and Mohammad worked as an electrical engineer. His firm transferred him to Omaha, Nebraska for about 4 years. Mohammad then accepted an opportunity to relocate as a government electrical engineer with the City of Lodi in California for 8 years.
In 1986, Mohammad came to work for the City of Lompoc as their Electrical Utility Engineer. In spite of his torturous experiences and miraculous escape which were considerably worse and more extensive than described above, he retains a good sense of humor and speaks excellent English. He describes his duties as “being responsible for keeping Lompoc’s lights on in the most economical and reliable way.”
He is looking for a writer and publisher to write a book on hi and his family’s exploits. It’s a wonderful and exciting story that needs to be told. As we native Americans and legal aliens are most fortunate to live inb the United States and more particularly within the Central Coast, we should count our blessing and demonstrate our continued appreciation for our freedoms. We should also welcome the Mohabbats into our midst as productive, hardworking American citizens.