Afghan interpreter who saved Joe Biden after Black Hawk crash finally arrives in the US after long journey to escape the Taliban and says: ‘I’m finally free’
- Mohammad Aman Khalili said that he was ‘so excited’ to be in US after escaping from the north of Afghanistan and spending months in neighboring Pakistan
- Khalili, his wife and five children had been trying for years to escape Afghanistan when US forces hastily withdrew in August and the Taliban took over
- The family has now settled in Phoenix, DailyMail.com has learned
- Khalili, while working for the US Army, had a key role in a story often repeated – and embellished – by Biden during his 2008 run for vice president
- As senator, Biden was on board one of two Blackhawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a blinding snowstorm
- Khalili jumped in a Humvee along with a force from the 82nd Airborne Division and drove hours into the mountains to rescue them
The Afghan interpreter who helped rescue President Biden from a remote valley in Afghanistan in 2008 has finally landed on U.S. soil.
Mohammad Aman Khalili said that he was ‘so excited’ to be in America after escaping from the north of Afghanistan and spending months in neighboring Pakistan.
‘I’m totally free. I am so excited. … It was a long trip as a start from the north of Afghanistan, right to the border of Pakistan,’ Khalili said on ‘Fox & Friends First’ Monday, adding that he felt betrayed when the U.S. left him behind as troops withdrew from Afghanistan last August.
Khalili, his wife and his five children had been trying for years to escape Afghanistan when American forces hastily withdrew in August and the Taliban took over. The family has now settled in Phoenix, DailyMail.com has learned.
‘It took me a long, long time. It was very scary on the roads because it was new power, a new changing situation in Afghanistan,’ he said.
‘The Taliban were on the roads, and they were checking and watching, as everybody is to find out their opponent and arrest them,’ he continued.
‘I had worked with the U.S. forces for about 13 years. It was egregious for me.’
Khalili, while working for the US Army, had a key role in a story often repeated – and embellished – by Biden during his 2008 run for vice president.
As senator, Biden was on board one of two Blackhawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a blinding snowstorm, alongside then-Sens. John Kerry D-Mass., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
A private security team with the former firm Blackwater and US Army soldiers stood watch for Taliban fighters as the crew called Bagram Air Base for help, where Khalili jumped in a Humvee along with a force from the 82nd Airborne Division and drove hours into the mountains to rescue them.
Mohammad Aman Khalili said that he was ‘so excited’ to be in America after escaping from the north of Afghanistan and spending months in neighboring Pakistan
Then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel in Kunar Province rescued in eastern Afghanistan on February 20, 2008. Aman Khalili, the interpreter who helped the senators, was finally able to make it out of Afghanistan
The three senators were driven back to the base with the convoy.
Going by the name Mohammed for security reasons, Khalili made a desperate plea to the president back in August not to ‘forget him.’
‘Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,’ Mohammed said, according to the Wall Street Journal. ‘Don’t forget me here.’
‘I can’t leave my house,’ he said on Tuesday. ‘I’m very scared.’
Mohammed’s visa application reportedly stalled when the defense contractor he worked for lost records needed for his visa application. As the Taliban seized control on Aug. 15, Mohammed tried his luck at the Kabul airport gates but was turned away by US forces. They told him he could go but he’d have to leave behind his wife and children.
Also weighing in on Khalili’s behalf was Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who met with the head of Pakistan’s ISI, the state intelligence agency, to help secure safe passage for Khalili and his family out of the country.
US soldiers say Mohammed was there alongside them for over 100 firefights.
The area of the rescue was not under Taliban control, but just one day before the three then-senators’ choppers went down, Taliban had killed nearly two dozen Taliban insurgents just 10 miles away.
‘We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn’t have to do it,’ Kerry joked after the senators’ rescue.
The trip was one of many that Biden, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took overseas with Kerry and Hagel, who went on to become secretaries of state and defense respectively under President Obama.
In a speech on the campaign trail, Biden said in 2008: ‘If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where (Usama) bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.’
‘It’s in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ he said, ‘where my helicopter was recently forced down.’
Khalili and his family lived in hiding out of a single room in Kabul for months until they were able to make their escape in October. Khalili told Fox News at the time that if the Taliban were to find him, he was sure they would kill him. ‘It’s too easy,’ he said.
Aman Khalili, who helped rescue Joe Biden when his helicopter made an emergency landing in Afghanistan in 2008, made it across the border into Pakistan. With intervention by top US officials after he was out of the country, he flew aboard military transport to Doha, say those who helped get him out
The family was able to escape with assistance from a former Afghan interpreter to US troops, aided by US military veterans from Arizona.
The vets were the ‘main drivers’ of the group that got him out, the Wall Street Journal reported.
‘After 144 hours of driving day and night and getting through so many checkpoints my family was so scared, but right now this is a kind of heaven. Hell was in Afghanistan,’ he told the paper as he arrived in Pakistan.
‘We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in September following reports he was unable to leave the country.
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