Aman Khalili: Afghan interpreter who saved Joe Biden braves Taliban and FINALLY escapes
Over a month since the capitulation of Kabul, thousands of US allies are still stranded in Afghanistan, with little way out of the nation. A handful have since managed to escape, with their stories making international headlines as an indication of how the West failed to live up to its promise. The latest to escape is Aman Khalili, an Afghan interpreter who famously rescued then-Senator Joe Biden in 2008.
According to reports, Khalili used a land route via Pakistan to leave Afghanistan, before the US State Department managed to get him. It's unclear if this was the same route used by Texas mom Mariam and her three children to escape Afghanistan, with the route being a closely guarded secret. Mariam and Khalili are just a few of the thousands of Afghan allies to make it out, many remain in the nation and are being hunted by the Taliban.
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Khalili's harrowing journey and the details of his tough escape have now made their way to the public. It also highlights the inability of the US to get directly involved in helping Afghan allies escape the country. Khalili's journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan was mostly his own, with some help from former vets, and locals. It was only once he crossed the border safely did the US State Department get involved.
Who is Aman Khalili?
In 2008, Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel were on a visit to Afghanistan, when a snowstorm forced their helicopter to make an emergency landing. The trio was forced to land in a remote region of Afghanistan and was left stranded for hours until a rescue could be organized. A part of that rescue mission was Aman Khalili, who worked as an interpreter for the US Army.
As a result of his loyalty and help, Khalili and his family were awarded Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to the US. But, those SIVs were of little use as the family was left stranded in the country during the chaotic last days of US occupation. He reportedly attempted to leave the country via Mazar-i-Sharif, but to no avail. On August 31, as the last US planes were departing Kabul, Khalili pleaded to Biden for help. "Save me and my family" he pleaded via the Wall Street Journal.
At the time, it seemed as if those pleas fell on deaf ears, but it wasn't entirely the case. It appears the US government was involved, via The Human First Coalition (HFC).
Khalili heading to Arizona
Reportedly, the HFC worked with an unnamed Afghan businessman, and the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) to get Khalili out of Afghanistan. To make matters even more difficult, his wife and five children didn't have passports. Initially, he was rescued by Mercury One and put up in a safe house in Mazar-y-sharif. However, he was left on the edge after the group gave him a series of false starts.
Eventually, he was then hooked up with HFC and brought to Helmand province on the southern border with Pakistan. That trip wasn't without peril, the family had to cross 12 checkpoints on one leg, Safi Rauf, who helped evacuate the family told The Daily Mail. Eventually, he made it across and was treated like a VIP. "This family had way less documents than all the other 200 people that are in Islamabad... I guess the State Department only wants the publicity and not actually want to help human life," Rauf slammed.
The government reportedly sent a C-17 to pick up Khalili and his family from Islamabad and moved them to Doha. Within three weeks he should be able to come to the US, the State Department noted. Shockingly, the family is one of the few to be rescued and moved. Around 200 others who made it out to Pakistan along with Khalili are still left in the nation. The White House has also personally reached out and promised the family it would expedite their paperwork.
So what's next for Khalili? According to Brian Genth, an Afghan war veteran who was part of the mission to rescue him, Khalili wants to "come to Arizona". It's unclear what he plans to do when he reaches stateside, but for now, Khalili can rest assured he can safely plan for his future, as well as that of his family's, without being worried about the Taliban.