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Interpreter Who Helped Rescue Biden In 2008 Finally Escapes From Afghanistan

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 11, 2021

Topline

An Afghan interpreter who helped rescue Joe Biden in 2008 from a possible Taliban attack, and then pleaded for the president’s aid when he was left stranded in Afghanistan after the U.S.’s withdrawal this summer, has managed to escape the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Key Facts

Aman Khalili and his family were able to cross the border into Pakistan last week after what The Journal described as a painstaking, weeks-long effort to remove them. 

According to the newspaper, Khalili and his family spent weeks in hiding while they tried to devise an escape plan, hampered by a lack of Afghan passports and Khalili’s unwillingness to leave without his family. 

Many organizations and high-profile figures offered to help Khalili but it was ultimately a group of former U.S. soldiers who had worked with him on the 2008 mission to save Biden that saw through his escape. 

After a “series of demoralizing setbacks,” including multiple failed attempts to get the family out via plane, the veterans worked with Human First Coalition, a nonprofit group led by an Afghan-American, which drove them 600 miles across Afghanistan to Pakistan. 

Some of the veterans who worked on the rescue operation argued the Biden administration didn’t do enough to help Khalili, according to The Journal

A senior administration official responded, arguing the government had various limitations under the Taliban. 

Crucial Quote 

​​“People see a compelling human-interest story, and they imagine that there is some special set of things we can do that will enable us all to get that person and family out of harm’s way on an expedited basis when, in reality, there are limitations to what we can do, especially as a government, when compared to some private actors,” an unnamed senior official said. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes

Key Background 

Khalili was part of a team sent to rescue Biden and two fellow senators, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) from a possible Taliban attack after their helicopter was forced to land during a snowstorm in 2008. His story drew a wave of publicity after he publicly pleaded for Biden’s help after U.S. forces exited Afghanistan at the end of August. Khalili appealed directly to the president in a message published in The Journal: “Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki committed to helping Khalili escape and thanked him for his service to the president. He has reportedly had his request for a special immigration visa and the paperwork that will allow him and his family to come to the U.S. fast tracked. 

Further Reading 

“Afghan Interpreter Who Helped Rescue Biden in 2008 Left Behind After U.S. Exit” (The Wall Street Journal)

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