DENVER (CBS4) – An Afghan interpreter and his family arrived at Denver International Airport on Tuesday night. It was the final step in a frantic escape from Afghanistan for Ahmad Siddiqi.
After deboarding from his flight, Siddiqi was reunited with Army veteran Scott Henkel, who is from Broomfield. The two served together in Afghanistan and after forging a friendship Henkel says Siddiqi saved his life.
“I’m just feeling emotional. A lot of memories are coming. And I’m very glad to see Capt. Scott after probably 15 years,” Siddiqi said after sharing a hug with Henkel.
Siddiqi got out of Afghanistan hours before the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 American troops and dozens of civilians. He and his wife and their four children went to Italy and finally made it to Denver where they are all set to live.
Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Jason Crow were also at the airport to welcome Siddiqi. Both helped Siddiqi get here along with Henkel and his wife Heidi.
After the situation for Siddiqi became dire over the summer due to the Taliban’s rise to power in his country, the Henkels put their lives on hold and worked every contact they had to save Siddiqi’s life and coordinate donations for he and his family to be able to live in Colorado.
“It’s been a ride. We started in a place of complete desperation, fear and worry. And now I put my arms around him and it’s like ‘He’s really here.’ This is a real thing now,” Scott said.
Siddiqi and his family will be moving into a house in the same neighborhood as the Henkels. They’ll be living in the home of a local police officer and his wife.
“The Siddiqi family is safe and loved, and not only loved but overly welcomed in Colorado,” Heidi said.
Last month when final preparations were being made for Siddiqi to arrive, he was already getting job offers since he speaks four languages. The children, who speak English, are also already enrolled in an elementary school in the Denver area.
This Thanksgiving the Henkles are planning to reunite Scott’s entire Army team from Afghanistan to spend the holiday with the Siddiqis.
The family is among 856 Afghan refugees who are expected to resettle in Colorado. The Metro Denver North Islamic Center set up a GoFundMe account to help the refugees.