The dramatic rescue in Afghanistan took place in the dark. With the Taliban approaching, Americans lacked time to save Mohammad Khalid Waldak.
A well-known Afghan National Police officer, who has been working with the U.S. military for years, ran barefoot at some point after the fall of Kabul to avoid prisoners of war, moving from safe to safe. The United States and its allies had only a few minutes to get Khalid, as his friends took him and his wife and their four little sons to the safety of a helicopter waiting.
As part of the Operation Promise Kept, the family was taken to a private location in Kabul and then to Kuwait. There, Khalid was treated for a mortar injury. Within three weeks, the warrior, who once ordered resistance to the Taliban from a hospital bed, settled with his family in the United States.
“I’m a free man,” Khalid told The Associated Press through an interpreter after arriving at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, on a U.S. military plane 15 days after the rescue. “It’s like a dream to me.”
During a 90-minute conversation from the home of a U.S. government official who left Afghanistan with some important paperwork and the clothes he wore, he had his last gun battle with the Taliban, he was in the U.S. A new life that doesn’t require a bodyguard, thanks to the brotherhood developed with the special forces, and the generosity of friends and strangers who talked about the outlook.
“Every minute I thought,’They will probably kidnap and kill my children and siblings,'” he said, still worried about his relatives in Afghanistan. “Everyone was looking for me.”
Khalid is one of the thousands of Afghans starting over in a new country after the withdrawal of the United States. His friend said he did not intend to leave and planned to protect his hometown after the US military left. However, the government collapsed at an alarming rate, and the president fled the country.
According to his friends, he was widely known for his role as police chief in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, and for his television appearances in the Taliban.
“There is no price in the world to see Khalid and his family,” said Robert McCreeley, a former parliamentary chief and White House employee under President George W. Bush, who worked with US special forces in Afghanistan. Told. “You are talking about human life, and whether they live or die. After all they did for us, we were able to accomplish this for them, so we Is very happy. “
McCreary told AP last month that Khalid originally sought family-only protection while fighting.
He said Khalid came to the rescue in March 2013 when a special forces detachment in Wardak, eastern Afghanistan, was attacked by an insider. Someone in Afghan National Security Forces uniform fired and killed two Americans.
When the outpost was attacked from the outside at about the same time, the US commander called Khalid. Within minutes, Khalid rushed into the valley with a quick reaction force to protect his American partner.
In 2015, when Khalid lost part of his right leg in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, he helped a U.S. military friend take his medical care and prosthesis out of the country. A month later, he was again commanding a special police operation with the Americans, Army Special Forces forces said. Major Chris Greene who worked with Khalid in Afghanistan.
In the process, he helped capture the leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He subsequently served as police chief in Ghazni and then Helmand, where he was injured in a mortar in July.
Mr Khalid said he had left “a very difficult situation” and “returned from the dead.”
“I have served my country for 20 years. We had a government. We had an army. Everything is gone. Sometimes I cry about it,” he said. Told. “These brothers helped me. I didn’t think I was alive, but they saved my life and my family.”
Khalid spent his first day in Washington, roaming the city and spending time with his family in the park. Government children baked dozens of cookies for his family. He was taken to Wal-Mart to buy clothes over the weekend.
He hopes to meet with Senator Chris Coons this week who helped lead the effort to rescue Khalid with McCreeley, McCreeley said. He also plans to meet with an immigration lawyer to begin the process of becoming an American citizen.
Khalid said he would like to learn English, get a degree in computer engineering and spend more time with his family. This is something we couldn’t do in Afghanistan.
“I spent a lot of time in the war,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve been home with my family.”
Nick McKinley, a CIA and Air Force veteran who founded the Dallas-based Deliver Fund, said it is a non-profit organization that reserves housing for 50 Afghan families in the United States.
He helped find Khalid’s host in Washington and confirmed that he and his family had clothes and food.
“Halid is a very smart person and a very talented person,” McKinley said. “The whole community wraps around him and makes sure he has what he needs. More importantly, he has a community he can count on when new needs arise in the future. increase.”
McCreary said he plans to be there at every stage for Khalid.
“This is all that he did with us, how much he loves him for us, how much he saved the lives of Americans, and he with us. It’s a great way to show how long you’re working together, “McCreeley said. “It’s a real honor to keep that promise for him.”