By C. Douglas Golden September 10, 2021 at 9:27am
When it comes to getting refugees out of Afghanistan, vetting is critical. One situation at Ramstein Air Base in Germany proves the case perfectly.
Just the News’ John Solomon reported Tuesday that a male Afghan refugee leaving the base for the United States was found to have “blasting caps and other explosives materials in his carry-on luggage” during pre-flight screening.
Three American officials told the outlet that the refugee likely wasn’t engaged in terrorism; he was a contractor for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and had likely brought the materials on board when he was evacuated.
The outlet obtained a Transportation Security Administration summary of the incident.
“Screeners, including a member of the German military assisting the U.S. at the Air Force base in Germany, found five blasting caps, one igniter switch, a ‘def cord’ and one shock tube when the refugee was apprehended late Monday morning German time, according to officials and the TSA summary report,” Solomon wrote.
“TSA advised that during the physical search (full open) of the individuals baggage a German military member identified a suspicious item in the baggage,” the memo read.
Officials removed the explosives from the hangar and called an ordinance team to deal with them. The refugee was pulled from the line for his flight and the TSA would go on to exclude him from entering the United States.
“Subject has been moved to a ‘red list’ and will not travel to the U.S.,” the memo read. Furthermore, air marshals were advised of the situation.
Solomon noted the incident occurred the same day Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted the United States hadn’t been able to fully vet Afghan refugees before they were airlifted out.
Did Afghan refugees in Biden’s airlift need more vetting?
“In our effort to get as many people out as fast as we can while we had the airport functioning, we focused on doing just that,” Blinken said, adding the State Department was “doing accountings on the back end as people arrive in the United States.”
“My expectation is we will have a breakdown of the numbers of people who left Afghanistan, including not just American citizens, but green card holders, [Special Immigrant Visa] applicants, SIV visa holders, Afghans at risk, those eligible for P-1 and P-2 visas,” Blinken said during a media briefing in Qatar, according to Fox News.
“All of that will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead as we’re able to break down the numbers.”
In reality, the lack of vetting proves we were fortunate to have just one major terror attack hit during the evacuation. If an individual could get blasting caps and an igniter cord onboard an airlift in Kabul, he could just as easily have gotten a live bomb on board — and taken down a plane.
It’s not just explosive material in the suitcase of a U.S. contractor that should be sounding alarm bells about our vetting of the Afghan refugees we airlifted out.
Last week, The Associated Press reported on an internal State Department document seeking “urgent guidance” regarding Afghan men who arrived at an Army base in Wisconsin with young sexual assault victims they identified as their “wives.”
“Intake staff at Fort McCoy reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as ‘married’ to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families,” the document read. “Department of State has requested urgent guidance.”
In another document, girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi made allegations older men raped them and forced them to marry in order to leave Afghanistan.
It would be bad enough if these were all among the “Afghan allies” we were told the Taliban were going door-to-door hunting down. If you’re playing the percentages, however, that’s unlikely.
Last week, Bloomberg reported on government sources who said that of the 124,000 people the United States evacuated from Afghanistan, “a small percentage of the Afghan citizens who got out are the ones the U.S. pledged to place at the top of its priority list: the thousands who had worked for the U.S. and its allies as well as employees of nongovernmental groups and media organizations.
“Instead, initial findings suggest that while some who escaped were locally employed staff, many got out because they were part of the initial crush of people who made it to Kabul’s airport as the city fell to the Taliban or secured passage through airport gates thanks to luck or help from people in the U.S. or elsewhere.”
Bloomberg also reported “many of the Afghans who were most vulnerable to the Taliban — applicants for the Special Immigrant Visa program intended for translators and others who aided the American war effort — didn’t make it out because the U.S. told them going to the airport would be too dangerous. And they never got a call to come before the last U.S. plane departed to meet President Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 departure deadline.”
Asked by The Washington Post how many of the refugees worked with the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “I can’t really quantify it or measure it against expectations.”
It’s unclear what those expectations were in the Biden administration. As for the public’s expectations, the Post’s report set them low. The outlet described the story of an Afghan refugee named Mustafa who “finally safe in the cargo bay of an American military plane after surviving the chaos and violence of the Kabul airport, glanced around at the other weary Afghans and was struck by what he saw.”
“Many had minimal identification and did not appear to have worked closely with the United States as he had, serving as a translator and analyst,” the Post reported. “They were ‘just people,’ he said, who took advantage of a disorderly evacuation to flee their turbulent country.”
“Nobody knows who was the good guy and who was the bad guy getting into the plane,” Mustafa told the Post. “It’s a risky thing that I believe happened.”
Naturally, the administration’s take is that the situation was chaotic. That chaos was borne of the administration’s hasty withdrawal and ignorance about conditions on the ground, however. We couldn’t get all American citizens or those who had Special Immigrant Visas out of the country, and now it appears we just got whoever we could out, vetting be damned.
That’s why “whoever we could” apparently includes a man carrying explosive material, multiple cases where refugees had child “brides” who they had allegedly sexually assaulted in tow, many individuals without proof of who they are and, it appears, not a whole lot of those who were on our priority list of evacuees.
Sadly, given the number of terrorist and insurgent organizations operating in Afghanistan that don’t particularly hold a fond view of the United States, we’ll still be fortunate if this is the extent of our bad surprises from the Biden administration’s botched evacuation.