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Afghan Commander Arrives In Seattle For Medical Treatment

August 17, 1986

SEATTLE (AP) _ An Afghan rebel leader whose left arm was incapacitated by a battlefield injury will undergo surgery in Seattle so he can return to fight again, says an Alaska doctor who arranged the treatment.

Nazir Khan, 24, arrived in Seattle late Saturday and was to meet with doctors Monday, said Aziz Sadat of Freedom International, based in Seattle.

″He’s a young field commander, that’s why they made the special request for him″ to be treated in the United States, said Dr. Ron Brockman of Kodiak, Alaska.

He said the surgery needed wasn’t available in neighboring Pakistan, the base of the Mujahadeen rebels fighting the Soviet-backed regime since 1979.

″He will return to the battlefield,″ said Brockman. ″One of the things he has is a desire to go back and, basically, kill Russians.″ Khan, speaking with Sadat as a translator, said he was wounded twice, once in the shoulder and once in the left hand, while commanding 250 rebels in Jajit, Paktia province.

Khan said his company was attacked by Soviet forces using tanks and machine guns, and eight of his men were killed.

He said his left arm was paralyzed below the elbow, and he was in great pain.

″There are literally thousands of others who need to be treated somewhere other than where they’re at, but they will probably never get it,″ said Brockman, who spent April in Pakistan with the organization Orthopedics Overseas helping treat Afghan refugees and mujahadeen.

He said about 20 Afghan fighters come to the United States each month for treatment at various hospitals.

David Montgomery, director of Freedom International, said a Seattle doctor and Providence Hospital agreed to provide the necessary operation and care for Khan. Brockman said the doctor was Dr. Lance Ray, a vascular surgeon.

Members of the 400-strong Afghan community in the Seattle area paid his air fare and agreed to support him in Seattle, he said. Brockman said Khan probably would be here for three weeks to a month.

Brockman said damaged arteries and veins in Khan’s arm had grown together, disrupting blood flow to the arm. ″It’s fairly easy corrective surgery, with the proper surgeon and the proper conditions,″ Brockman said from his Kodiak home.

He said it is doubtful that damaged nerves in Khan’s arm can be repaired, but that he would still be able to function as a field commander.

He said he had met Khan at Afghan Surgical Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, and was asked by an Afghan doctor to make arrangements for his treatment in the United States.

During his month in Peshawar, said Brockman, ″I did 100 surgical procedures and barely scratched the surface.″

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