White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday praised the Afghan interpreter in hiding who helped rescue then-Sen. Joe Biden during a 2008 rescue mission as she reaffirmed the US’ commitment to helping Afghan allies.
“Our message to him is: Thank you for fighting by our side for the last 20 years. Thank you for the role you played in helping a number of my favorite people out of a snowstorm and for all the work you did. And our commitment is enduring, not just to American citizens but to our Afghan partners who have fought by our side,” Psaki said.
“And our efforts and our focus right now is, as you’ve heard Gen. McKenzie say and others say over the last 24 hours, is to the diplomatic phase. We will get you out. We will honor your service. And we’re committed to doing exactly that.”
The interpreter, who is going only by his first name, Mohammed, told the Wall Street Journal that he is asking the President to “save me and my family” after US forces allowed him to enter Kabul’s airport during their evacuation mission but restricted his wife and children.
The Journal first reported earlier Tuesday that Mohammed had helped rescue Biden in 2008 when his helicopter — which was also carrying then-Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Kerry of Massachusetts — was forced to make an emergency landing in the mountains of Afghanistan because of a snowstorm.
The Journal reported that Mohammed has had his Special Immigrant Visa stuck in processing. The program is meant to provide a pathway to the United States for Afghans who were employed by or worked on behalf of the US government, but many have had trouble navigating the program’s process amid the US’ frantic scramble to evacuate.
“I can’t leave my house,” he told the Journal. “I’m very scared.”
Though the Taliban said they would not harm those who had worked with foreign forces, revenge attacks have been reported.
Nearly all the nations involved in Afghanistan evacuation efforts — Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy and more — have ended their operations and pulled out of the country. The last US military planes left Kabul on Monday, marking the full withdrawal of American forces.
Still, when asked about the Biden administration’s commitment to helping Afghan allies, Mohammed told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” Tuesday evening: “I trust him.”
“I trust that he can do everything,” Mohammed said of the President. “He is the President of the United States. He is a man of education.”
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