Photo Gives Glimpse of Low-Profile US Air Operation

Air Wing’s formal relationship with Pakistan began in 2002, when it was brought in to help “combat the smuggling of narcotics, goods, arms and ammunition,” the State magazine said. The U.S. provided helicopters and “train[ed] Ministry of Interior personnel to fly and maintain them.”

In general the Air Wing also conducts what the State Department calls “personnel and cargo movement” and “other missions as agreed upon between the U.S. Embassy and the Host Nation,” either of which may explain their subtle involvement in Masih’s case.

A State Department Air Wing spokesperson declined to directly address the Air Wing pilot being spotted with Masih, except to say that State Department assets are operated under the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s own air wing.

“We were encouraged that the Government of Pakistan provided security for Rimsha and her family,” the spokesperson said.

[Editor's Note: The original version of this report identified the aviator with the State Department patch as the co-pilot of the aircraft and the other aviator as the pilot. This version has been updated to clarify the roles were reversed.]

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