Interpreter who helped rescue Biden in 2008 escapes Afghanistan
The Afghan interpreter who helped rescue President Biden when he was a senator in 2008 has escaped Afghanistan with the help of U.S. military veterans, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Aman Khalili and his family, including his wife and four children, fled Afghanistan last week after traveling more than 600 miles to the Pakistan border, the Journal reported.
U.S. veterans from Arizona worked closely with former Afghan soldiers and Pakistani allies to plan the escape and move Khalili and his family into neighboring Pakistan.
In 2008, Khalili was part of a team sent out from Bagram Airfield to extract then-Sens. Biden (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) after the Black Hawk helicopters they were on were forced to make emergency landings due to a blizzard 20 miles from the base.
After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, Khalili and his family made desperate pleas for help on U.S. news shows, including “Fox and Friends,” asking for help from Biden and his administration to escape the Taliban-led country.
Going by the alias of Mohammed, Khalili said in a Fox News interview last month that he felt betrayed by the U.S. evacuation operation.
“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,” he told the network.
“If they find me, they will kill me,” Khalili said. “It’s too easy [to be found].”
Khalili’s said his application for a special immigrant visa had come to a halt due to bureaucratic processes that prevented him from leaving Afghanistan. When he and his family tried to reach the airport after the fall of Kabul, U.S. forces told him that only he could go past the checkpoint, he said.
Khalili is now being granted a new visa and received approval to board a U.S. flight to Doha, the Journal reported on Monday.
In a statement to The Hill, the State Department confirmed Khalili “safely departed Afghanistan and subsequently initiated onward travel from Pakistan.”
“They did so with extensive and high-level engagement and support from the US Government, and we are grateful for the many others who also supported him along the way,” the department said.
There are still tens of thousands of Afghans looking to leave the country after working with the U.S. in some capacity over the past two decades.
–Updated at 1:08 p.m.
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