The Afghan interpreter who helped rescue Joe Biden from a remote valley in 2008 was finally able to get out of the country following the US troop withdrawal after being aided by US military vets from Arizona.
After high-profile pleas for assistance and a vow by the White House to get him out of the country, the interpreter, now identified as Aman Khalili, was able to escape the country via a land route to Pakistan.
After aborted efforts to leave the country by air out of Mazar-i-Sharif, Khalili and his family members made it out with assistance from a former Afghan interpreter to US troops, aided by US military veterans from Arizona.
The vets were the ‘main drivers’ of the group that got him out, the Wall Street Journal reported.
‘After 144 hours of driving day and night and getting through so many checkpoints my family was so scared, but right now this is a kind of heaven. Hell was in Afghanistan,’ he told the paper.
‘We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month following reports he was unable to leave the country.
But the mission that finally succeeded after setbacks was headed by an Afghan-American who had himself operated as a linguist for ‘elite US forces,’ according to the Journal.
Then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel in Kunar Province rescued in eastern Afghanistan on February 20, 2008. Aman Khalili, the interpreter who helped the senators, was finally able to make it out of Afghanistan
Also seeking to help in what proved to be a failed effort were staff working for conservative commentator Glenn Beck. That channel ran into snags in part because Khalili’s family members – his wife and four of his five children – lacked passports.
‘Aman helped keep me and other Americans safe while we were fighting in Afghanistan, and we wanted to return the favor,” said Brian Genthe, an Afghan war vet with the Arizona National Guard who assisted in the effort. ‘He’s a blessing.’
Sequestered in a safe house amid dashed hopes, Khalili sometimes grew despondent.
‘I am crying,’ he wrote to Genthe, in emails reviewed by the paper. ‘I don’t know how to get home—so dangerous for me and [my] family.’
The unconventional rescue came as administration officials said the Taliban were limiting the government’s ability to help.
‘In reality, there are limitations to what we can do, especially as a government, when compared to some private actors, a senior Biden administration official told the paper.
Brian Genthe, an Afghan war vet with the Arizona National Guard, assisted the effort to get the former interpreter out of the country
Amid his desperate please for assistance, Khalili said he feared Taliban retribution and told Fox & Friends he felt betrayed by the US.
‘Do you feel betrayed?’ Fox & Friend First co-host Jillian Mele asked Khalili, was was then going by Mohammed, which the Journal said is his official first name, for safety reasons.
‘Yes, yes, they exit their forces from Afghanistan,’ he said in a phone interview. ‘They left me and my family and like me, the other people left behind. But it’s very scary, man, as we are under great risk.’
Before his rescue, Khalili said if the Taliban were to find him, they would kill him. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on his situation, he had been trying to get out of Afghanistan for years.
When asked what message he has for Biden, Khalili said: ‘Hello, President, do not leave – do not forget me and my family.’
‘At the moment in Afghanistan, it is very hard and horrifying situation,’ he added. ‘There’s no escape from here to another area. But I’m also wondering how I’m going to get out from my house to somewhere else.’
‘Just give him my hello and tell him, if possible, tell him or send the message, to not let me and my family left (sic) behind,’ he asked the Fox News host to relay to President Biden.
Mohammed, the Afghan interpreter who helped rescue Joe Biden in 2008, is pleading with the president to now help him get out of Afghanistan, claiming he feels betrayed by America
The last U.S. military planes and service members left Afghanistan on August 31st, leaving behind at least 100 Americans and scores of Afghani allies and interpreters. Biden lauded the end of the two-decades-long war in remarks Tuesday where he called the withdrawal and evacuation efforts an ‘extraordinary success’.
‘Is your life in danger right now? What would happen to you and your family if the Taliban were to find you?’ Mele asked Khalili.
‘If they find me, they will kill me. It’s too easy,’ he responded.
‘I’m hiding in my house,’ he continued. ‘I haven’t seen outside – what’s going on outside.’
‘How long can you live in hiding?’ The host asked him, mentioning that his face is in a picture with Biden.
‘There’s no way, man. Depends, maybe die at home, there is no way,’ he said.
He is just one of the hundreds – maybe thousands – of American allies and interpreters who helped U.S. forces and efforts in Afghanistan during the 20 year war, which Biden declared over in Tuesday remarks.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki vowed that the U.S. will evacuate him from Afghanistan.
Psaki, when asked during her press conference Tuesday, broadly thanked Mohammed for his service but wouldn’t detail exactly how that service would be repaid.
‘Our message to him is: thank you for fighting by our side for the last 20 years. Thank you for the role you played, and helping a number of my favorite people out of the snowstorm, and for all the work you did.
‘And our commitment is enduring, not just to the American citizens but to our partners who have fought by our side.’
Psaki echoed other Biden officials’ statements that evacuating U.S. citizens and allies from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is not ending but moving into a ‘diplomatic phase.’
‘We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that,’ she said.
The press secretary did not elaborate on how the Biden administration intends to see that through.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki promised the US would get the Afghan interpreter who saved Joe Biden out but didn’t indicate a plan to do it
Khalili, while working for the U.S. Army, had a key role in a story often repeated – and embellished – by Biden during his 2008 run for vice president.
As a U.S. senator, Biden was on board one of two Blackhawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a blinding snowstorm, alongside then-Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.
A private security team with the former firm Blackwater and U.S. Army soldiers stood watch for Taliban fighters as the crew called Bagram Air Base for help, where Khalili jumped in a Humvee along with a force from the 82nd Airborne Division and drove hours into the mountains to rescue them.
The three senators were driven back to the base with the convoy.
Kerry, left, is seen with Biden, right, during their visiting to the governor’s office in Asad Abad, the provincial capital of Kunar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008
Taliban Badri 313 units post for the cameras at Kabul airport today, carrying American-made rifles and wearing US military gear
His visa application reportedly stalled when the defense contractor he worked for lost records needed for his visa application. As the Taliban seized control on Aug. 15, Khalili tried his luck at the Kabul airport gates but was turned away by US forces. They told him he could go but he’d have to leave behind his wife and children.