Administration

Afghan interpreter who helped extract Biden, other senators in 2008 asks president to save him

An Afghan interpreter who helped save President Biden when he was a U.S. senator stranded in Afghanistan 13 years ago made an appeal for help in escaping Afghanistan with his family in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday.

In 2008, the interpreter named only as Mohammed helped in extracting Biden, then a senator from Delaware, along with then-Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), when the Black Hawk helicopters they were in were forced to make emergency landings due to extreme blizzard conditions 20 miles away from Bagram Air Base.

Mohammed was a part of the team sent out from Bagram that drove for several hours into the mountains to reach the visiting U.S. lawmakers.

“Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,” Mohammed said to the Journal on Monday. “Don’t forget me here.”

When reached for comment by The Hill, the White House said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

A White House representative pointed to remarks from Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week in which he said the U.S. will continue to help Afghan allies and hold the Taliban to its pledge of allowing people to travel out of Afghanistan.

According to the Journal, Mohammed and his four children are currently in hiding from the Taliban as his years-long attempts to leave the country have been stymied by bureaucratic processes.

“I can’t leave my house,” Mohammed said. “I’m very scared.”

After Kabul fell to the Taliban, he had attempted to make it to the airport. However, Mohammed told the Journal that U.S. forces informed him that only he could get past the gates, not his family.

Numerous U.S. military officials have signaled their support for Mohammed, the Journal noted.

In a letter supporting Mohammed’s Special Immigrant Visa application, Lt. Col. Andrew R. Till wrote, “His selfless service to our military men and women is just the kind of service I wish more Americans displayed.”

Army combat veteran Shawn O’Brien wrote, “If you can only help one Afghan, choose [Mohammed].”

The last U.S. military plane left Afghanistan on Monday, ending the nearly 20-year war. However, officials have said that diplomatic efforts to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans will continue.

After overtaking the Afghan government, the Taliban said they would offer amnesty to all Afghans who worked with Western-backed forces. However, reports have come out of Taliban fighters seeking such individuals and threatening their families.

In an interview Tuesday evening, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain vowed that the U.S would get Mohammed “and other SIVs” out of Afghanistan.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” Klain said he does not believe Biden has seen the Journal’s report on Mohammed yet, but said the White House would “cut through the red tape” that prevented him from leaving Afghanistan earlier.

“We are going to try to get every person out. I read in that story that he did not finish the SIV process because of some complexity with his employer — it doesn’t matter. We’re gonna cut through the red tape, we’re gonna find this gentleman, whose name is an assumed name in that story, and we’re gonna get him and the other SIVs out,” Klain told Hasan.

–Updated at 9:53 p.m.

Tags afghan interpreters afghan war afghan withdrawal Afghanistan Antony Blinken Bagram Airfield Chuck Hagel Joe Biden John Kerry Mohammed Presidency of Joe Biden Ron Klain Taliban War in Afghanistan

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