An interpreter who rescued US President Joe Biden in the 2008 snowstorm has escaped Afghanistan along with his wife and five children.
Aman Khalili and his family crossed into Pakistan with the help of Afghan-American veterans. They were later flown out of Pakistan on a US government aircraft to Doha, Qatar, a State Department spokesperson told a news agency.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Khalili, his wife, and five children, who were unable to flee in the August emergency airlift following the takeover by the Taliban, escaped the country with the help of Afghan-American and veterans groups.
In 2008 Khalili was working as an interpreter for US forces when the then-senator Biden and two other lawmakers, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, visited Afghanistan.
When a snowstorm forced their helicopter to land in a remote area, Khalili joined a small military Quick Reaction Force which drove from Bagram airbase into the mountains to rescue them.
Thirteen years later, Khalili was unable to get his application to emigrate to the United States processed in time to be evacuated as the Taliban seized power.
“Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,” he was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal at the very end of August when the airlift of some 120,000 people escaping the country ended.In response, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government would help him.”We will get you out. We will honor your service,” she said.
After the airlift ended, Khalili and his family hid in a safe house in Kabul, with the help of Afghan Americans and US veterans.
Unable to board a refugee flight from Mazar-i-Sharif, in part because they lacked Afghan passports, Khalili and his family traveled overland surreptitiously for two days to the Pakistan border, which they crossed on October 5.The Journal reported that the State Department is fast-tracking a plan to provide the family with special immigration visas for the United States.