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100 Afghan evacuees who landed in US red flagged for terror connections, says report

Afghan evacuees arrive in Indianapolis on Friday as US 1st Cavalry Division soldiers watch. Hoosiers will host the Afghans at Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, as they begin their safe resettlement to the United States (Image courtesy: US National Guard/Tackora Farrington)

The United States has flagged about 100 Afghan evacuees for "possible ties to the Taliban or terror groups" and is sending two of them out of the country – to Kosovo – for further review.

Citing "two sources familiar with the US evacuation", NBC News reported today that the US federal officials are acting out of abundance of caution, and just because a person is flagged does not mean they are a terrorist or pose a threat.

"Something in their profile — their name, background or a number in their cellphone — raised enough concern that they could not be permitted to stay in the US pending additional review, according to the sources," the NBC report mentioned. 

According to the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) – the lead combatant command for Operation Allies Welcome – out of the 120,000 people safely evacuated from Kabul, 40,000 have entered the US and approximately 25,600 of them are Afghan evacuees.  

As many as eight US bases – Fort Bliss, Fort Lee, Fort McCoy, Fort Pickett, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Camp Atterbury, Marine Corps Base Quantico and Holloman Air Force Base – are being used as safe havens for the 'vulnerable Afghans' pending resettlement efforts.


Afghan evacuees at a US base (Image courtesy: Twitter/@USNorthernCmd)

Even though Washington has insisted that only those individuals who have cleared a rigorous security vetting procedure in transit third countries are able to enter the US, analysts have raised concerns about people who have been red flagged for terror connections landing at the Dulles or Philadelphia Airport.

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) remains ever vigilant against attempts by foreign adversaries to exploit vulnerable populations as a means of gaining access to the US for nefarious purposes," Alejandro Mayorkas, the  Secretary of US Homeland Security said Friday.

Consequently, as part of a collaborative, interagency effort that includes DHS, the Departments of Defence and State, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and other agencies, the US has
built the security and vetting system to operate in the transit countries abroad.  

It also includes shipping hundreds of biometric screening machines to several countries in Europe and the Middle East to conduct biometric and biographic screenings and establish a robust screening and vetting architecture there.

While Ned Price, the US State Department spokesperson, has said that Washington has "a plan" in place – which cannot be detailed publicly – for all those applicants whose vetting is not successful, it seems sending them back to countries like Kosovo is what the US would be doing in the weeks to come.

Also Read: Under stress and under attack, US will continue to evacuate people from Kabul