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Last of three Afghan soldiers who fled to Buffalo wins asylum

In January, Noorullah Aminyar's lawyer predicted almost certain death if the former Afghan solider ever returned home.

The warning came just weeks after Aminyar's brother was found dead in their village, a threatening note from the Taliban left next to his body.

Eight months later, Aminyar is a free man, granted asylum by a Buffalo immigration court.

"It's almost like a dream come true for him," his local attorney Matthew Borowski said. "He also has a great sense of gratitude to the United States."

One of three Afghan soldiers who garnered headlines in 2014 when they left their training on Cape Cod, Mass., and fled to Buffalo with hopes of eventually making it to Canada, Aminyar was the only one still in prison.

With the help of a cab, the three men made their way to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and soon found themselves under arrest. All three soldiers, one of them a major, said that their fear of the Taliban prompted them to run.

Over the next two years, two of the three soldiers were granted amnesty, one here, the other in Canada.

Aminyar, meanwhile, remained at the Federal Detention Center in Batavia, facing deportation back to Afghanistan.

Last of three Afghan soldiers who sought asylum here is facing deportation

On Tuesday, during Aminyar's latest appearance in immigration court, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was no longer opposing Aminyar's asylum request.

"Basically, the government changed its position," Borowski said. "And yet, there's no anger, bitterness or disappointment on Aminyar's part at how long the process took."

Borowski said Aminyar, who was released on bail about a month ago, is eager to find work here and eventually send for his wife and five children.

"He's not sure where he wants to stay but he likes it here in Buffalo," he said.

Aminyar's release came just a few months after Borowski went public with the news of his brother Sefatullah's killing.

Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not comment on the killing at the time, but Borowski thinks it was a factor in the government's decision not to oppose Aminyar's request for asylum.

Borowski said the government argued in the past that Aminyar’s involvement in the military did not automatically make him a target of persecution. He thinks the killing of Aminyar’s brother and the letter now prove otherwise.

"He was a high-value target that the Taliban would go after," he said Wednesday.

Afghan seeking asylum in Buffalo says Taliban killed his brother

From Day One, Borowski questioned the immigration courts’ decision to deny Aminyar amnesty and pointed to the same appeals panel ruling in favor of asylum for Maj. Jan Arash, 50, one of Aminyar’s fellow soldiers. Arash is now living in the Buffalo area.

The other soldier, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, 30, who has family in Canada, was ruled eligible for asylum there and was transferred to Canada in December of 2014, just three months after their arrests.

From the time of his arrest, Aminyar has talked publicly about his fears of the Taliban. He told a Buffalo News reporter in October of 2014 that a horrifying image repeatedly entered his head.

In it, he said at the time, Taliban soldiers come to his village, Khwogani, find his family home and murder him in front of his wife, parents and five children.

“This happens in Afghanistan. There have been a lot of soldiers who were killed in their homes, in front of their wife and children. If they catch them alive, the Taliban cuts off their heads in front of their families,” he told The News. “When we are home, we are on our own. We get no protection. … This happened to eight of my friends … soldiers.”

Afghan soldiers, from left, Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Capt. Noorullah Aminyar were taken into custody at the Rainbow Bridge in 2014.

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