Pineapple Express: Special ops veterans save 600 Afghans in tense Kabul rescue mission

Tensions were running so high that one member compared the real life events to a 'Jason Bourne' thriller unfolding every 10 minutes


                            Pineapple Express: Special ops veterans save 600 Afghans in tense Kabul rescue mission
In this handout by the US Marine Corps, a Marine passes out water to evacuees during the evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 21, 2021 in Kabul (Getty IMages)

As the threat of the Taliban continues to grow with every passing day, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the locals to imagine continuing their lives in Afghanistan. Ever since the US withdrew its armed forces from the country, the terror organisation took over Afghanistan and since then has been growing more violent and reportedly adding checkpoints near Kabul's airport. In the midst of this, an all-volunteer group of American veterans of the Afghan war launched a bold mission on Wednesday night to rescue hundreds of at-risk Afghan elite forces and their families to safety. 

According to members of the group who spoke to ABC News, the week-long rescue operation, which was dubbed the 'Pineapple Express', was carried out by a group of special ops veterans including retired Green Berets and SEAL commanders. This group of highly trained US military veterans secretly rescued hundreds of allied operatives in Afghanistan, all volunteering because otherwise these allies would reportedly have been left for dead. 

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According to the report by the publication, the group carried out their mission after nightfall in near-pitch black darkness and extremely dangerous conditions working unofficially in tandem with the United States military and US embassy. The plan was to move people - either only one person at a time, or in pairs, but rarely more than a small bunch - inside the wire of the US military-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport.

What is the Pineapple Express?

The group of special ops veterans were driven by deep frustration “that our own government didn’t do this,” former Navy SEAL Jason Redman told ABC. “We did what we should do, as Americans,” he said.

As per the report in the publication, they initially formed to rescue an ex-Afghan commando who was getting death threats from the Taliban for having worked with US special forces and elite SEAL Team Six. Following the successful evacuation of the Taliban’s target and his family of six, the task force decided to continue rescuing Afghan allies and, as per reports, has helped at least 630 get through to the other side.

“That is an astounding number for an organization that was only assembled days before the start of operations and most of its members had never met each other in person,” former Green Beret Capt Zac Lois told ABC.

So what is up with the pineapple?

The publication writes that the group of covert operators managed to dodge heavily militarized Taliban checkpoints by using images of pineapples on their phones to show those being brought in that they were on their side. The fruit actually acted as a final password that was given to US military members at the airport who were working unofficially in tandem with the heroic veterans, the publication said.

"Dozens of high-risk individuals, families with small children, orphans, and pregnant women, were secretly moved through the streets of Kabul throughout the night and up to just seconds before ISIS detonated a bomb into the huddled mass of Afghans seeking safety and freedom," Army Lt Col Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander who led the secret rescue effort, told ABC News.

Tensions were running so high that one member compared the real life events to a 'Jason Bourne' thriller unfolding every 10 minutes.

“I just want to get my people out,” Maj Jim Gant, a retired Green Beret who ABC said has been dubbed “Lawrence of Afghanistan,” told the network of the daring operation. “I have been involved in some of the most incredible missions and operations that a special forces guy could be a part of, and I have never been a part of anything more incredible than this,” Gant insisted. “The bravery and courage and commitment of my brothers and sisters in the Pineapple community was greater than the US commitment on the battlefield,” he said.