As the troop withdrawal deadline looms on the horizon, a sanctioned volunteer group of U.S. Special Forces veterans, intelligence officers, and aid workers, including retired Green Berets and former SEAL Team commanders, secretly did the work the Biden administration has been unable to effectively do: rescue hundreds of U.S.-allied Afghan forces and their families.
The elite group of former military personnel, which calls itself “Task Force Pineapple,” reportedly coordinated its own “privately-funded operations” to heroically evacuate Afghan allies from the Taliban regime, members of the group told ABC News.
What originally began on Aug. 15 as a rescue mission to save one ex-Afghan commando who was already receiving death threats from the Taliban because he worked with U.S. forces in the past, the task force, dubbed “Pineapple Express” for short, felt inspired to continue rescuing Afghan allies and their families. Wednesday night marked the task force’s final mission ahead of the withdrawal deadline this week.
“Our own government didn’t do this,” former Navy SEAL Jason Redman told ABC. “We did what we should do, as Americans,” he said.
Working unofficially with the U.S. military and embassy to get people out, the week-long “Pineapple Express” operation safely transported more than 600 Afghan special operators and families, sometimes “one person at a time” or “in pairs,” to the Kabul airport. Many Afghans the team rescued would otherwise have been left for dead at the hands of the Taliban which is ready to kill anyone opposing their totalitarian ideology.
Retired Green Beret Capt. Zac Lois told ABC he modeled this mission after Harriet Tubman’s historic “Underground Railroad” that helped hundreds of American slaves escape to freedom.
As the Taliban tightened checkpoints at the Kabul airport, making entry more difficult, the task force successfully smuggled people through in the middle of the night by flashing pictures of pineapples on their cell phones to indicate to Afghans that they were there to help, the outlet added. The fruit was also used as a password with active U.S. service members stationed at the Kabul airport to allow them entry.
Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander, noted “This Herculean effort couldn’t have been done without the unofficial heroes inside the airfield who defied their orders to not help beyond the airport perimeter, by wading into sewage canals and pulling in these targeted people who were flashing pineapples on their phones.”
“Leaving a man behind is not in our SEAL ethos. Many Afghans have a stronger vision of our democratic values than many Americans do,” said Dan O’Shea, a retired SEAL commander and former counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander, said to ABC that the covert rescue mission continued until just mere seconds before ISIS-K detonated the suicide bombings that killed 13 U.S. service members, wounded 18 U.S. troops, and left nearly 200 Afghans dead.