After weeks of hiding and a secret evacuation, Aman Khalili moves out with his family after a personal plea from the US President
After a series of disappointing setbacks and disappointing endings over the past six weeks, American veterans worked with former Afghan soldiers and well-located Pakistani allies to find a way to drive Mr Khalili and his family more than 600 miles into Afghanistan. covert operation can be carried out. And take them to Pakistan according to the people involved in the effort.
“Aman helped keep me and other Americans safe while we were fighting in Afghanistan, and we wanted to return the favor,” said Brian Genthe, a combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient with the Arizona National Guard, who Worked with Mr Khalili in Afghanistan. “She’s a blessing.”
In 2008, Mr Khalili was part of the defense team that Mr Biden, then a Democratic senator from Delaware, and fellow Sens. John Kerry (d., Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (r., Neb.) were sent to help. Two helicopters carrying them were forced to land in an Afghan valley hit by a Taliban attack by a dark blizzard.
After Mr Khalili’s story appeared in Businesshala on August 31, in which he was identified by his official first name, Mohamed, for security reasons, the American veterans who helped him were flooded with offers to aid the evacuation. . White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government would oust him.
The main driver of the mission to rescue Mr Khalili, his wife and five children was a US military veteran from Arizona who worked with the interpreter to rescue stranded senators in 2008.
Although a series of high-profile people and US officials said they would try to help him evacuate, it was a group led by an Afghan-American who worked as a linguist with elite US forces in Afghanistan. who carried out the ground operation. Khalili safely out of the country.
“After driving 144 hours day and night and going through so many checkpoints, my family was terrified, but right now it’s kind of heaven,” he told the Journal. “Hell was in Afghanistan.”
Publicity of Mr. Khalili’s plight and his ties to President Biden has led various groups to help him, aid not available to all at-risk Afghans who are still hiding in their country and looking for a way out. Huh. Groups acting on their behalf said there are lists containing more than 75,000 names.
A group of US and Afghanistan war veterans, aid groups and political leaders around the world have had some success helping those who wish to leave since the US pulled out its last army in late August. The Taliban have allowed a handful of planes to fly since leaving the US, but most Afghans without passports have been unable to fly. Some groups have turned their attention to expelling people from land borders.
Mr Khalili said his service with the US began soon after US forces overthrew the Taliban government in 2001. He made his way to Bagram Air Field—then the largest US military base in Afghanistan—and was hired as a translator.
He worked for various US contractors that provided the military with translators, but his application for a special immigrant visa granted to Afghans working for the US military was rejected in 2016. The US said he was denied a visa after leaving. by a defense contractor, which did not respond to requests for comment. Veterans who supported Mr Khalili said the rejection was the result of a misunderstanding with the company that hired him as a linguist.
Efforts to save Mr Khalili began in early August, when he sent petitions to US veterans with whom he sought help to get out of the country.
Mr Genthe stepped in to lead the effort as the US began to evacuate Americans and Afghans working with US forces.
Mr Khalili joined a crowd of people outside Kabul’s airport in late August as he tried to get the last flights out of Afghanistan before the US and its allies left. Mr Khalili said he was refused by American soldiers at the gate who said he could go in, but his family members could not.
As the last US forces pulled out of Afghanistan, Mr. Khalili spoke to the Journal and made a direct appeal to Mr. Biden for help.
“Hello President: Save me and my family,” he said. “Don’t forget me here.”
Mr Khalili went into hiding, and the veterans who helped him began searching for a safe home for him and his family. A private contractor told them it would cost more than $11,000 to move the family to a safe house, $900 a night for them to stay and another $11,000 to get them safely to the airport on time. There will be expenses. Amad Khan, an American philanthropist who has worked on several successful evacuation operations over the past seven weeks, said he helped move Mr Khalili and his family to a safe home in Kabul while they tried to work on an evacuation plan. Of.
Veterans were flooded with offers of help—most of which didn’t turn out—and tried to figure out who they could trust. He said Ukraine offered to conduct a special rescue operation if circumstances allowed. US lawmakers tried to put Mr. Khalili on a flight to Qatar. Eric Prince, the founder of the military contractor once known as Blackwater, offered to conduct a covert operation to get Mr. Khalili out of Afghanistan. Mr Prince said his offer to help was one of many he had made. People working for Glenn Beck, a conservative commentator, chartered planes to drive some Christians and other at-risk Afghans out of the country in late August, trying for weeks to get Mr. Khalili and his family safe. .
The biggest hurdle was that Mr Khalili’s wife and four of their five children did not have Afghan passports, which the Taliban had called necessary to leave the country.
During the weeks of hiding, hopes were raised and hopes dashed every day. Rescue plans were made, then canceled. Mr Khalili became concerned that Taliban forces were looking for homes in Kabul for people like him who work with the US.
After nearly a week of frustrating hurdles, the Arizona Giants decided to turn to Beck’s team, which drove Khalili and his family 250 miles from Kabul to Mazar-i-Sharif, where they Joined by thousands of other Afghans trying to get out. Charter flights grounded in northern Afghanistan city. The first rescue charter flight took off from the city last month, opening a narrow window for some people to exit Afghanistan.
Day after day, Mr Beck’s team assured Mr Khalili that he was leaving soon, according to messages from the Afghan interpreter seen by the Journal.
“Today is [the] The day we were all hoping for good news,” Mr Khalili wrote in a WhatsApp message to the Journal on 20 September.
But Mr. Beck’s team could not get Mr. Khalili and his family on the plane.
Rudy Atallah, chief operating officer of the non-profit Nazreen Fund, founded by Mr Beck working to get people out of Afghanistan, said efforts to get Khalili out were hampered by everything from bad weather to the former interpreter’s reluctance. To leave the country without his family. “We are helping thousands of people just like him,” Mr. Atallah said.
As Mr Beck’s team efforts failed, the Veterans reached out to various groups, including the Human First Coalition, a non-profit group led by Afghan-American Safi Rauf, who served as a linguist with the US military in Afghanistan. used to work in He said the group has helped more than 6,700 people, including 1,000 Americans, quietly get out of the country since mid-August.
“When it came to my desk, everyone else had left it,” said Mr. Rauf. “We promised these people that we will not leave you behind if you help us achieve democracy in Afghanistan and justice to America. I believe that we are indebted to the dignified lives of these Afghan people.”
The group assured Arizona National Guard veterans that they could take Mr Khalili and his family from outside to Pakistan. US veterans feared the route was too dangerous, those involved said. Not having a better option, the veterans decided to give it a try. So coalition teams raised Mr. Khalili and his family on the ground in Afghanistan to the north and took two days across the country to the southern border with Pakistan, where they prepared to cross.
On October 3, Mr. Khalili began to have second thoughts about trying to cross the land with his family.
“I am crying,” he wrote to Mr Genthe in a series of messages seen by the Journal. “I don’t know how to get home – so dangerous for me and [my] Family.”
On 5 October, after weeks of despair, Mr. Khalili and his family finally made it out of Afghanistan.
Some veterans working to protect Mr Khalili said the Biden administration had not done enough to help the Afghan interpreter and countless others were still seeking help from the US.
US officials said their efforts to help Mr Khalili and others like him were hampered by Taliban sanctions on those who could leave Afghanistan.
“People see a fascinating human-interest story, and they imagine that something is …