June 17, 2010
A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, FoxNews.com has learned.
The Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, "Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.]," issued by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas, and obtained by FoxNews.com.
The Afghans were attending the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The DLI program teaches English to military pilot candidates and other air force prospects from foreign countries allied with the U.S.
"I can confirm that 17 have gone missing from the Defense Language Institute," said Gary Emery, Chief of Public Affairs, 37th Training Wing, at Lackland AFB. "They disappeared over the course of the last two years, and none in the last three months."
Each Afghan was issued a Department of Defense Common Access Card, an identification card used to gain access to secure military installations, with which they "could attempt to enter DOD installations," according to the bulletin. Base security officers were encouraged to disseminate the bulletin to their personnel.
"The visas issued to these personnel have been revoked, or are in the process of being revoked. Lookouts have been placed in TECS," it reads.
Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), which is shared by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is a computer-based database used to identify people suspected of violating federal law.
Included in the bulletin are photos of the 17 men, accompanied by their dates of birth and their TECS Lookout numbers.
The bulletin requests, "If any Afghan pictured herein is encountered, detain the subject and contact your local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, the FBI or NCIS."
A senior law enforcement official said Friday that the Afghans' disappearance was more of an immigration violation than a security threat, saying there are no "strong indications to any terrorism nexus or impending threat."
The official further said that an unspecified number of the 17 have been caught. "A number of these guys have already been located or accounted for by now," the official said. "Some are in removal proceedings to be deported already. (Authorities) still need to locate the others, and that is why the bulletin went out."
The official said the information is "kind of old" -- up to two years -- but added, "It is important in the sense that some people look to come to the U.S. and will take advantage of invitations to train or attend a conference or to study, etc. But their real intention is to get to the U.S. and start a new life. It is not completely rare for this to happen....
"Although we are vigilant and need to work toward not allowing this to happen," the official said, this alert should "not necessarily" be described as "a national security threat, more of a 'hey these guys violated our laws and we need to find them.'"
The FBI and NCIS did not respond to requests for comment. A Department of Homeland Security spokesman referred FoxNews.com to the FBI.
The following 17 Afghan military members have gone AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas and are being sought in a nationwide alert in the U.S.
Abdul Ghani Barakzai, born 8/8/1977
Mohd Ali Karimi, born 9/3/1982
Mohammad Nasim Fateh Zada, born 12/4/1966
Aminullah Sangarwal, born 8/27/1982
Mohd Ahmadi, born 5/5/1978
Ahad Abdulahad, born 5/5/1984
Sayed Qadir Shah Habiby, born 5/7/1985
Javed Aryan a.k.a. Aryan Javed, born 1/1/1987
Mirwais Qassmi, born 4/24/1974
Barsat Noorani, born 6/3/1981
Atiqullah Habibi, two dates of birth are listed on the alert: 6/2/1982 and 7/2/1982
Ahmad Sameer Samar, born 5/2/1983
Mohamed Fahim Faqier, born 6/1/1987
Obaiddullah Abrahimy, born 8/1/1979
Sayed Nasir Hashimi, born 4/5/1972
Shawali Kakar, born 12/31/1979
Khan Padshah Amiri, born 4/1/1978