White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain committed to evacuate from Afghanistan the Afghan interpreter who helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden and two other senators from a snowstorm in 2008.
In a Wall Street Journal report published earlier this month, the interpreter—identified only as Mohammed while in hiding—pleaded to be transported out of the country now under Taliban control.
“Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,” Mohammed told the Journal. “Don’t forget me here.”
“We are going to try to get every person out,” Klain said.
Mohammed joined Arizona National Guard troops in Afghanistan on a 2008 rescue mission to track down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a remote valley during a snowstorm. Those helicopters were carrying then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel.
According to the former National Guard staff sergeant who brought Mohammed along to help rescue the senators, Mohammed was unable to complete his Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) application to leave Afghanistan because the defense contractor that employed him lost the necessary records.
Mohammed also said he tried gaining access to the international airport in Kabul where the American evacuation effort was underway, but U.S. troops said only Mohammed could enter—not his wife and their four children.
“I read that [Mohammed] did not finish the [SIV] process because of some complexity with his employer,” Klain said. “It doesn’t matter,” he added. “We’re going to cut through the red tape. We’re going to find this gentleman. And we’re going to get him and the other SIVs out.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki delivered the same message to Mohammed at a news briefing: “We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that.”
The pledges from the top White House officials come after the U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30, along with its frantic effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies. U.S. officials have said they were successful in evacuating more than 123,000 people, including Americans, third-country nationals, and Afghan civilians, out of Afghanistan.
Author: Forgey, Quint
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