44 Afghan evacuees flagged by US as possible security threats

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44 Afghan evacuees flagged by US as possible security threats

Forty-four Afghan evacuees trying to flee to the United States have been flagged by Homeland Security as potential national security risks, according to a new report.

They were identified during the US government’s screening process amid the mass evacuations out of Kabul over the last two weeks, vetting records obtained by the Washington Post show.  

Of the 44 on the Homeland Security list, 16 people were not cleared to travel to the US at all and remain in overseas transit sites.

Thirteen remain in the custody of Customs and Border Protection so they can undergo additional screening and reviews.

Another 15 were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and were either sent back to the Middle East or Europe, or were released in the US after additional reviews.

Some of the 44 Afghans flagged had suspected ties to terrorists or had suspicious information on their phones, the report says.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has so far refused to give a specific number for how many Afghans had been turned away during the screening process.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has so far refused to give a specific number for how many Afghans had been turned away during the screening process.
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Two other Afghans were flagged because they’d previously been deported from the US.

One had a sexual assault conviction from 2010 and the other was convicted for armed robbery in 2011. Both are currently in ICE custody, according to the vetting records.

More than 60,000 evacuees have arrived in the US since Aug. 17 since the evacuations ramped up.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has so far refused to give a specific number for how many Afghans had been turned away during the screening process.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday he was “very comfortable” with the security measures taken in regards to the Afghan refugees.

“What they’re doing as people come in, they’re getting their names registered. They’re doing the biometrics. They check their irises. They do their fingerprints. They take a full facial photo,” he said.

Several people, including children arrive at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base from Afghanistan, 23 August 2021, in Madrid, Spain. A total of seven planes have departed from Kabul airport to the Torrejon base with Afghan evacuees from Spain, after the country has been controlled by the Taliban. Spain has managed to evacuate a total of 566 Afghans, about half of whom have applied for asylum in Spain and 91 have already been transferred to reception centres.
Forty-four Afghan evacuees trying to flee to the United States have been flagged by Homeland Security as potential national security risks.
Europa Press via Getty Images

Milley said officials with​ the Department of Homeland Security​, FBI, State Department,​ ​Customs and Border Protection​​ and United States Agency for International Development were involved. ​

He did note, however, that US intelligence gathering in Afghanistan will be hindered now that the US withdrawal is complete. ​

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