“My family is filled with joy and happiness right now because we know we saved Habib and his family, but we also know there are hundreds of Habibs out there right now behind the gate and they’re praying, praying to get out,” Saboor told “Fox & Friends,” crediting Hegseth and Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., for assisting the effort.
“I’m in awe of Saboor. I’m in awe of what he did when I was there. He was an interpreter. He was far more than that, he was our adviser. Not just for me but for hundreds and hundreds of U.S. and NATO troops who came through where he worked,” Hegseth said.
Hegseth said that Saboor was “indispensable” to his unit’s mission in Afghanistan.
“Nothing happened without the man that you’re looking at on the screen,” Hegseth said.
Saboor’s triumph has “nothing to do with the Biden administration nor the State Department,” Hegseth said. Hegseth credited the “courageous veterans” and those in Congress “who wouldn’t quit.” Saboor also said that the effort was done without the help of the Biden administration.
“Now to see what he is doing. I have had a chance to be witness to this. The risk he has taken of his own life. The investment he has poured into not just his family and young kids, getting them across, but now other Afghans, and this story will be told,” said Hegseth.
Top Biden administration officials indicated Tuesday they would soon provide long-awaited details regarding the number of Americans still stranded in Afghanistan amid mounting bipartisan pressure to ensure that no American is left behind following the Taliban’s takeover.
While the Pentagon said about 4,000 American passport holders and their families have been evacuated during chaotic rescue operations, the White House has yet to reveal exactly how many Americans have been unable to leave. With President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline just days away, administration officials have a “political incentive” to keep details vague, according to Nathan Sales, a former ambassador-at-large and counterterrorism coordinator at the U.S. State Department.
“I think the administration sees a real political vulnerability because the message ‘leave no person behind, leave no American behind’ is one that really resonates with the American people,” Sales, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Fox News. “The smaller the denominator is, the less exposure they have to being criticized for failing to effectively evacuate vulnerable Americans.”
The White House has faced mounting criticism over its failure to provide a precise figure. Several top administration officials, including Pentagon spokesman John Kirby and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, have said they did not know the number.
Saboor said his older brother started working with U.S. forces when they first landed in Afghanistan in 2001 and he followed later.
“Right after high school, when I graduated from high school, there was a choice I had to meet the financial difficulties of the family to start bringing bread to home and make sure that everyone is safe and secure as a young man, I just finished high school. There was a sense of patriotism and sense of serving the nation in whatever capacity you could,” Saboor said.
The oppression of women by the Taliban also motivated Saboor to help the United States mission.
“Right in front of my eyes I saw my sisters not being able to go to school. They weren’t able to leave home. And they weren’t able to get educated so this was my way of fighting back. This was our way of fighting against a system that we know and lived that was unjust to portions of society, and even ourselves. We had to risk our lives to do this.”
Saboor praised the “core team” that he is a part of helping Afghans escape.
“When we pulled Habib, we knew this wasn’t the end of the story for us. We knew this wasn’t going to be just Habib. We have to save other Habibs out there,” he said.
“You get phone calls from the State Department. You get phone calls from the embassy all they tell you is we want to confirm where you are and nothing else. … But, the core team that I reached out to through the people in my network, folks like Pete Hegseth and Congressman Waltz and other names that will have to stay anonymous right now. These people did open their doors and welcomed Saboor and his family and worked every single day and night to get that family out of there and I’m grateful for that,” he added.
More than 700 people, including 150 American citizens, were moved out of Afghanistan after the U.S. resumed flights out of Kabul’s airport last Tuesday. While the Pentagon warned it would issue a swift retaliation to any attacks from the Taliban, many are still stranded in the country and are pleading for help.
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.