An all-volunteer group of US veterans of the Afghan war launched a daring mission dubbed as 'Pineapple Express' to help scores of Afghan elite forces and their families, who are at risk following Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and subsequent attacks, to safety.
The group said it worked unofficially in tandem with the United States military and US embassy to move people, sometimes one person at a time, or in pairs, but rarely more than a small bunch, inside the wire of the US military-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport, an ABC report said.
The Pineapple Express' mission was underway yesterday when the attack occurred in Kabul.
Two suicide bombers believed to have been ISIS fighters killed at least 13 US service members - 10 US Marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army soldier and one to be determined -- and wounded 15 other service members, according to US officials.
Among the wounded were Pineapple Express travellers from the blast, and members of the group said they were assessing whether unaccounted-for Afghans they were helping had been killed.
As of yesterday 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 US military.
That number added to more than 130 others who had been smuggled into the airport encircled by Taliban fighters by Task Force Pineapple, an ad hoc groups of current and former US special operators, aid workers, intelligence officers and others with experience in Afghanistan who banded together to save as many Afghan allies as they could since the capital fell to the extremists on August 16.
"Dozens of high-risk individuals, families with small children, orphans, and pregnant women, were secretly moved through the streets of Kabul throughout the night and up to just seconds before ISIS detonated a bomb into the huddled mass of Afghans seeking safety and freedom," Army Lt Colonel Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander who led the private rescue effort, told ABC News.
After succeeding with helping dozens of Afghan commandos and interpreters get into the protective ring of the airport created by the 6,000 American troops President Joe Biden dispatched to the airfield after Kabul fell to the Taliban, the group initiated an ambitious ground operation this week aided by US troops inside.
The objective was to move individuals and families through the cover of darkness on the "Pineapple Express."
The week-long effort and Wednesday's operation were observed by ABC News under the agreement of secrecy.