Pentagon inspector general report revealed that at least 50 Afghan evacuees were brought to the United States following the withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan. Their information was indicative of “potentially serious security concerns”. It also failed to find dozens of others who had “derogatory” information that would render them ineligible to parole.
The report revealed that U.S. agencies had not used all data available when screening Afghan evacuees. According to the report, the National Ground Intelligence Center NGIC later increased its screening to fill in the gaps.
The report states that NGIC personnel had identified 50 Afghan nationals in the United States as of November 2, 2021. This information was found in DoD records and could indicate potential security concerns.
A footnote is attached to this section of the report. It states that “significant security concerns” include individuals whose fingerprints were found on improvised explosives devices or known terrorists, and for whom the NGIC sends derogatory notifications to the appropriate DoD personnel.
According to the report, Defense Department personnel also stated that they were unable to locate Afghan evacuees while trying to report derogatory information on DoD and U.S. government support CONUS safe-havens.
CONUS stands for “Continental United States” and is a military acronym.
According to the report, 31 Afghans living in CONUS had been identified by NGIC as having derogatory information as of September 17, 2021.
The report says that only three of the 31 could be found.
The report states that “To try to locate the 31 people, the NGIC created an informal process to send emails detailing the derogatory data to DoD personnel and U.S. Government officials that either was located at, had oversight over, all CONUS safe-havens.”
According to the report, NGIC personnel had “reviewed approximately 58,455 Afghan evacuee identity records and determined that it will take approximately March 2022 for this analytic review to be completed.”
The report states that they completed the extension on December 10, 20,21, which extended the agreement to June 27, 2022. “We also recommended to the Commander, U.S. Northern Command that he develop procedures for sharing derogatory data on Afghan evacuees between the DoD, interagency stakeholders, and the DoD.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security stated that Afghan evacuees are subject to a multi-layered, thorough screening and vetting process. This begins overseas and is performed by an intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism specialists from the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center, and other Intelligence Community partners.
The DHS Spokesperson stated that “The federal government is using every tool possible to ensure that no individuals posing a threat to national security or public safety are allowed to enter the United States.”
The Department of Homeland Security stated that it couldn’t comment on specific vases but noted that Afghan evacuees who have been evacuated from Afghanistan are taken to international transit points, where they are reviewed and collected biometric and biographic data.
Biometric information refers only to fingerprints and facial images, while biographic data refers to names, birth dates, and identification numbers.
Officials stated that biometric data is compared with DHS, DOD and FBI repositories while biographic information are vetted and verified by the National Counterterrorism Center and other intelligence community partners.
Officials stated that only those who pass the comprehensive screenings are allowed to travel to the United States.
According to the DHS, Afghan nationals are subject to a primary inspection upon their arrival at U.S. ports. Individuals who are identified as such by Customs and Border Protection as needing further review after their primary inspection are referred for a secondary inspection. Additional reviews are done by CBP officers and federal partners as necessary.
According to the DHS, if they find any concern, they use tools to protect U.S. security. This includes the placement of individuals in expedited removal or removal proceedings.
This report raised long-standing Republican concerns about the screening and vetting Afghan nationals following the withdrawal of U.S. military forces and the evacuation from Afghanistan.
“Following President Biden’s chaotic withdrawal in Afghanistan, I expressed concern at the administration’s failure to screen evacuees from terrorist safe-havens,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a Friday statement. According to a Pentagon watchdog report, the situation is much worse than we thought.
“Thousands of Afghans arrived in the United States without being properly screened by DoD before entering. This was according to the Department of Defense inspector general. Grassley said that the National Counterterrorism Center didn’t use all of the data it needed, creating dangerous gaps in its screening process. “Additionally, the administration is unable to locate some evacuees who have problematic records and were released into the United States prior to background checks.
Grassley stated that the processing issues pose serious national security concerns and public safety risks.