Interpreter who saved Biden in Afghanistan now stranded there

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Then-Senators Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, and John Kerry in Afghanistan on Feb. 20, 2008.

An Afghan interpreter who helped in the 2008 rescue of then-Sen. Joe Biden and two other senators from a valley in Afghanistan was among the thousands left behind as the commander-in-chief pulled US troops out of the embattled nation, leaving it in the hands of the Taliban. 

Mohammed, whose last name has not been revealed as he is still in hiding, gave a message for President Biden through the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. 

“Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,” he said. “Don’t forget me here.” 

The interpreter is hiding from the Taliban after attempting to escape Afghanistan for years. He and his family are among the many Afghan allies who were unable to evacuate the country by the time US troops completed their full withdrawal Monday evening.

In 2008, Mohammed was a 36-year-old interpreter working with the US Army when two US Army Black Hawk Helicopters carrying Biden and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) were forced to land in the mountains due to a snowstorm. 

After landing, the crew requested assistance and Mohammed responded with a Quick Reaction Force from the 82nd Airborne Division, driving hours to rescue the senators. According to soldiers, Mohammed was a part of over 100 firefights in the valley. 

In June, Lt. Col. Andrew R. Till gave support for the interpreter’s application for a Special Immigrant Visa after it became stuck due to a defense contractor losing the necessary records. 

Then-Senators Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, and John Kerry in Afghanistan on Feb. 20, 2008.
Then-Sens. Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden and John Kerry in Afghanistan on Feb. 20, 2008.
John Silson/U.S. Department of State
Taliban special force fighters stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
The interpreter is hiding from the Taliban after attempting to escape Afghanistan for years.
hwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

“His selfless service to our military men and women is just the kind of service I wish more Americans displayed,” Till wrote. 

Shawn O’Brien, an Army veteran who worked with Mohammed in 2008, has also called on US officials to help Mohammed leave the country. 

“If you can only help one Afghan, choose [Mohammed],” O’Brien said, per the Journal.

The interpreter and his family reportedly attempted to evacuate by going to the Kabul airport gates, where he was told by US troops that he could get in, but not his family. 

John Kerry and Joe Biden during their visit to Asad Abad, the provincial capital of Kunar, Afghanistan, on Feb. 21, 2008.
John Kerry and Joe Biden during their visit to Asad Abad, the provincial capital of Kunar, Afghanistan, on Feb. 21, 2008.
AP

As of Tuesday, Mohammed remained in hiding, saying, “I can’t leave my house. I’m very scared.” 

Biden frequently mentioned the rescue during the 2008 presidential campaign, saying, “If you want to know where al Qaeda lives, you want to know where [Osama] bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me.”

“Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down … in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.” 

A U.S military aircraft takes off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
America’s longest war came to an end Tuesday.
Wali Sabawoon/AP

Tuesday marked the end of America’s longest war, which lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, cost some $2 trillion and took the lives of nearly 2,500 US troops and about 240,000 Afghans.

As thousands rushed to flee the country before the deadline, US troops helped evacuate 79,000 civilians on US military aircraft since Aug. 14 — including 6,000 Americans and 73,500 Afghans and third-country citizens, according to US officials. 

Evacuation efforts were briefly halted last Thursday when an ISIS-K suicide bomb attack shook the Kabul airport, killing 13 US service members and nearly 200 Afghans. Evacuation flights resumed Friday morning. Several hundred Americans remain in the embattled country following the withdrawal, according to the Pentagon.

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