Afghan Interpreter Who Once Helped Rescue Biden Made It Out of Country… No Thanks to US Government
© REUTERS / US ARMYU.S. Soldiers, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, prepare to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021
© REUTERS / US ARMY
Even though the US president was briefed that the man and his family were left behind during August’s chaotic withdrawal, Washington did very little to help him get to safety. Still, the White House did speed up the process of issuing visas for the man and his family.
Despite US President Joe Biden assuring that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a big success, many people whom Washington was supposed to help get out remained in the country, which is now ruled by the Taliban*. Moreover, there are roughly 75,000 Afghans who helped NATO forces and still remain in Afghanistan. Among them was Aman Khalili – a local interpreter, who took part in a US team that extracted then-Senator Joe Biden in February 2008 after his helicopter was forced to land in the middle of unsafe territory due to a snowstorm.
Khalili made it to Kabul Airport this August hoping, like thousands of others, to get out of the country before the Taliban closed the borders – only to find out that the departing troops were only ready to take him, not his wife and children. The Afghan interpreter's application for special immigrant visas (SIV) that would have helped him get his family out was rejected. This apparently happened due to a misunderstanding with the military contractor who hired Khalili, and who should have provided the relevant documents to the US government.
And so, the Afghan interpreter, who had worked with NATO forces for almost two decades, was left stranded in Afghanistan after the American troops departed on 30 August. He even managed to send a plea for help to US President Joe Biden, in whose rescue he took part, but the White House did nothing in terms of busting Khalili out of Afghanistan. But others heard his call – a group of US veterans agreed to help get him out of the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.
They made several attempts and received dozens of offers of help from different sources – from conservative commentators to Eric Prince, the former head of the Blackwater private security company. After several unsuccessful attempts, Khalili made it to Pakistan after crossing the land border with the help of a non-profit group, Human First Coalition.
"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", Khalili told the WSJ upon leaving the country.
Once in Pakistan, Khalili finally got help from the Biden administration – he and his family would be taken on a plane to Doha, Qatar on 11 October, the WSJ reported, citing US officials. At the same time, Suzy George, chief of staff to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was tasked with accelerating the process of reviewing the visa request from the Afghan interpreter and his family, so that they can get to the US.
While Khalili's story is not the only one with a happy ending thanks to the efforts of non-profit groups working on getting those who want to leave out of Afghanistan, many more might not have access to such aid, or simply might not live long enough to get it.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.