Not all Americans are as willing to abandon the promises made in Afghanistan as the Biden administration is. When it became clear that the Taliban would become the dominant force, concern for religious minorities, women, and those who had assisted America rocketed up. As the August 31 deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan crystalized, the administration’s plan to evacuate the vulnerable started to falter.
Diplomats abandoned the U.S. embassy in Kabul and consolidated all diplomatic and military operations to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKAI). Taliban “security” checkpoints surrounded the airstrip. The situation for anyone to reach the airport gates became exponentially more dangerous. The U.S. State Department issued several warnings cautioning evacuees not to go to the airport until they received instructions.
In these conditions, non-profits, veterans, retired intelligence agents, and others mounted efforts to rescue those the Taliban would put to death if they remained when America entirely withdrew. On August 25, an all-volunteer group of special forces veterans dubbed Task Force Pineapple launched a final rescue mission. According to ABC News:
As of Thursday morning, the group said it had brought as many as 500 Afghan special operators, assets and enablers and their families into the airport in Kabul overnight, handing them each over to the protective custody of the U.S. military.
The American volunteers coordinated covert movements using an encrypted chat room. With documents prepared by Task Force Pineapple, small groups of Afghan allies and their families made their way to the airport. The Taliban beat some but never checked their papers as they made their way through checkpoints. The evacuations continued amid the suicide bombing at the Abbey Gate when communications were temporarily interrupted.
Using signals including red sunglasses and pineapple phones, Task Force Pineapple reports saving a total of at least 630 over several days. Former Green Beret Captain Zac Lois coordinated the ground team’s movements:
Lois said the Task Force Pineapple was able to accomplish a truly historic event, by evacuating hundreds of personnel over the last week.
“That is an astounding number for an organization that was only assembled days before the start of operations and most of its members had never met each other in person,” Lois told ABC News.
Lois said he modeled his slow and steady system of maneuvering the Afghan families in the darkness after Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad for American slave escapees.
The story, as reported by ABC, deserves to be told on the big screen. While the Pineapple Express was running under cover of darkness, Glenn Beck and the Nazarene Fund intended to get planes full of evacuees wheels up from the airport. Beck focused on rescuing Afghani Christians, female judges, and Afghan allies working with the Mighty Oaks Foundation and other organizations in a coalition.
No one expected the white-haired conservative firebrand to be running covert operations in the dark. He is using his platform to implore his listeners to help him launch a humanitarian mission. In less than a week, Beck raised over $30 million to support the professional operators in the Nazarene Fund to do the heavy lifting.
The Nazarene Fund has been operating in tandem with Operation Underground Railroad for several years. CEO Tim Ballard, a former CIA and Homeland Security Agent, established the sister organizations to rescue religious and ethnic minorities, victims of human trafficking, and kidnapped children. The organizations manage over 100 groups and special operators globally. Beck is the founder of The Nazarene Fund and remains on the board. In full disclosure, I donated to the Fund for the current operation in Afghanistan.
Beck’s morning podcast from a location in the Middle East has been a parade of people from several organizations working tirelessly through official and unofficial channels to get vulnerable people and their families out of Afghanistan. It has been a depressing running commentary about the obstacles placed in front of these selfless operators by our government.
According to Beck and Chad Robichaux from The Mighty Oaks Foundation, the U.S. State Department has been their biggest obstacle. After negotiating with the country of Macedonia to take evacuees temporarily, officials told Beck the State Department intervened to stop the transfers. Friday morning, he reported there are new agreements with nations he will not disclose. His fear is the State Department will intervene again and thwart the plans.
Beck and Robichaux have promised to detail the obstacles put in front of them when the operation concludes. Americans should ensure there is political accountability. As of Friday morning, Beck reported workers were welding the gates at HKIA shut. The coalition is now seeking far riskier land bridges to continue evacuations from Afghanistan.
As we watch the Biden administration falter and try to excuse their incompetence in Afghanistan, America needs stories that exemplify American courage, honor, and bravery. American men and women are still willing to lead in the darkest times. These civilian operators are risking their lives to deliver where our government is failing.