The story of the Afghan interpreter who saved Biden’s life in a winter storm

Aman Khalili (3rd from right) and his family.

Aman Khalili (3rd from right) and his family.


13 years ago an Afghan interpreter helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden from hostile rural areas in Afghanistan.

Now, after a personal petition to the President of the United States, Aman Khalili and his family they managed to leave the country.

They succeeded after spending weeks in hiding, crossing the border into Pakistan as part of the exodus of Afghans who are trying to escape living under the Taliban regime.


In 2008, Khalili was working as an interpreter for the United States forces when Joe Biden, along with legislators Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, were visiting Afghanistan.

US politicians, who served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were traveling in two military helicopters when a snowstorm forced them to make an emergency landing in a remote, snowy valley where they were vulnerable to attack by the Taliban.

Khalili was then part of a small military unit that left the Bagram base to rescue the group of senators.

As reported at the time, Biden and the other senators were taken back to the base and from there they departed for Ankara, Turkey.

Now, 13 years later, Khalili had been asking the US government for help in leaving the country after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August.

He finally succeeded and thus joins thousands of Afghans who have fled the country to escape living under the Taliban regime.

family leaving Afghanistan

Thousands of people have been evacuated from Afghanistan but thousands more are waiting to leave the country.

Veterans help

As the Wall Street Journal reports, American veterans worked with former Afghan soldiers and Pakistani allies to carry out a clandestine operation to drive Khalili and his family through Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

“Aman helped me and other Americans stay safe while we fought in Afghanistan, and we wanted to return the favorBrian Genthe, a combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient of the Arizona National Guard who worked with Khalili in Afghanistan, told the Wall Street Journal.

“He is a blessing,” she added.

On Monday, a representative of the US State Department told the BBC that Khalili and his family had “left Afghanistan safely and later they started their trip from Pakistan“.

“They did so with broad, high-level commitment and support from the US government, and we are grateful for the many others who also supported them along the way.”

Special visa

Thirteen years after his chance meeting with the future president, Khalili had been fighting for get your special immigrant visa (SIV) of the United States to flee Afghanistan.

Khalili was unable to gain sight before the arrival of the Taliban. And after America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, he called on Biden to save him, his wife, and their five children.

I trust himHe told CNN. “I trust you can do everything.”

In September, when White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Khalili’s situation, she thanked him for “helping several of my favorite people out of a snowstorm and for all the work that they made”.

And he said the United States was “committed” to the evacuation of its allies.

Since Khalili and his family also did not have Afghan passports, they were unable to travel on the refugee flights organized by the US government.

Then a group of veterans organized a mission to transport the family by land to leave the country.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the main drivers of the mission to evacuate Khalili and his family from Afghanistan were Arizona US military veterans who worked with the interpreter in the 2008 operation to rescue the stranded senators.

American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Getty Images
Aman was helped by US veterans (File Photo)

“After 144 hours of driving day and night and going through so many checkpoints, my family was so scared, but right now this is some kind of paradise,” Khalili told the Wall Street Journal.

Hell was in AfghanistanHe added.

At risk

The Human First Coalition, an organization that is helping rescue more than 200 Afghans now in Pakistan, told the BBC that they were “deeply grateful” to US and Pakistani officials for assisting “in our efforts to bring the interpreter from President Biden and his family to safety. “

Khalili’s situation, however, it is not unique.

Thousands of Afghans are at risk and hiding in their country after having collaborated with foreign armies during the war and are looking for a way out.

According to aid groups there are lists with more than 75,000 names of people at risk.

The United States special immigrant visa was designed specifically for Afghans and Iraqis who worked alongside US troops in both conflicts.

It is not clear if Khalili has already obtained this visa or if he is going to travel to the United States.

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