Aman Khalili — an Afghan interpreter who was involved in the effort to rescue then-Sen. Joe Biden and two other U.S. senators in 2008 after two helicopters made an emergency landing in Afghanistan — has finally escaped from Afghanistan with his family, according to the Wall Street Journal.
They departed the country last week and entered Pakistan, the man said, according to the Journal.
"Following a series of demoralizing setbacks and frustrating dead-ends over the past six weeks, U.S. veterans worked with former Afghan soldiers and well-placed Pakistani allies to carry out a clandestine operation to drive Mr. Khalili and his family more than 600 miles across Afghanistan and get them to Pakistan, according to those involved in the effort," the outlet reported.
The Biden administration has been heavily criticized for its handling of the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, where the Taliban swiftly seized control. Afghan allies and some U.S. citizens were still stranded in Afghanistan when the U.S. completed its pullout in August.
The outlet reported, "The main drivers of the mission to save Mr. Khalili, his wife and five children were U.S. military veterans from Arizona who worked with the interpreter on the 2008 operation to rescue the stranded senators. Although an array of high-profile people and U.S. officials said they would try to help evacuate him, it was a group led by an Afghan-American who worked as a linguist with elite U.S. forces in Afghanistan who carried out the ground operation that got Mr. Khalili safely out of the country."
The Journal said that the veterans contacted organizations including the Human First Coalition.
"The group assured the Arizona National Guard veterans that they could get Mr. Khalili and his family out overland to Pakistan. The U.S. veterans were afraid the route was too dangerous, those involved said. With no better options, the veterans decided to give it a try. So the coalition's teams on the ground in Afghanistan picked up Mr. Khalili and his family in the north and drove two days across the country to the southern border with Pakistan, where they prepared to cross," the outlet reported.
Then on Oct. 5, the family had finally escaped from Afghanistan.
Suzy George, Secretary of State Antony Blinken's chief of staff, "helped fast-track Mr. Khalili's new request for a special immigration visa and the paperwork his family will need to get to the U.S., according to U.S. officials," the Journal reported.
Shortly after they entered Pakistan, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman travelled to Islamabad for previously scheduled meetings, and while there, she requested and received Pakistan's authorization to permit Khalili and his family to fly on Monday aboard an American military plane headed for Doha, Qatar, according to U.S. officials, the outlet reported.
The Journal noted that Khalili said he is grateful to all of the people, including the Arizona veterans, who worked to help him and his family reach safety.
"If we get the chance, we will greet the president and thank him for his assistance and for his promise," Khalili said. "We are so grateful to America for completing its promise."