Mohammad Khalid Wardak, an Afghan national police officer who worked alongside the U.S. military for years, has been rescued with his family, according to the Associated Press.
The man and his family were flown via helicopter on Wednesday in a rescue dubbed Operation Promise Kept — they were transported in the dark by the American military and its allies, Robert McCreary said, according to the AP. McCreary is “a former congressional chief of staff and White House official under President George W. Bush, who has worked with special forces in Afghanistan,” the AP reported.
McCreary said that several allies including the British assisted, and that the man, his wife and their four children were “safe in an undisclosed location under the protection of the United States.”
The successful rescue marks a bright spot during a largely dark and tumultuous time in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has swiftly taken over, seizing the capital city of Kabul on Sunday and leaving many people in grave danger.
“Khalid and his family were unable to get inside the airport where the Taliban controlled the entrances,” the AP reported. “He was widely known because of his position as police chief in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province and from television appearances, including one in which he challenged the Taliban to a fight, supporters said,” according to the outlet.
The man, who is called Khalid by friends, was rescued following efforts by supporters in the American military who said that he had helped save many lives and would be killed if he were ever located by the Taliban, the AP reported. The outlet noted that they sought assistance from lawmakers, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State.
“I don’t think people understand the chaos that is reigning right now in the capital, the brutality and the efficient lethality the Taliban are using … to ensure their rise to power as they eliminate their greatest threat, which are these military and special police,” said U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Major Chris Green, who worked with Khalid in Afghanistan, according to the AP.
Khalid’s family has applied for refugee status in America, though it is not apparent how much time the process could take or whether they will even get approved, the AP reported.
“Translators, interpreters and others who worked for the U.S. in Afghanistan are eligible to apply for special immigrant visas, but current Afghan military members or police officers are not, supporters said,” the outlet noted.
But while Khalid has now been rescued, many other people in Kabul remain in peril.
NBC News reported that a former U.S. Army interpreter said on Thursday that he, his wife, and his kids were hiding out in Afghanistan’s capital city.
“I’m OK now, but the situation is bad, very bad,” he said, according to NBC News. “From where I am, it should take five minutes to get to the airport. But now it’s impossible. It is very dangerous.”
“I can’t go my own home because of bad guys and I have hidden my self in my relatives home. Because I served over 10 years for US Army! I can’t sleep well because of scary situation!” the man wrote later in an email.