About 10,000 of the 30,000 Afghan evacuees taken to the United States require additional screening, with 100 of them flagged for possible connections to the Taliban or global terror groups, and requiring additional review, NBC News reports, citing two sources said to be familiar with the situation.
According to the sources, at least two evacuees will be sent to Kosovo. They did not specify what Kosovo facility they were referring to. However, the United States has operated Camp Bondsteel, a sprawling US military facility, on the disputed Serbian territory since 1999. UN and European officials have previously compared the prison at the base to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while reporters have alleged that the Camp Bondsteel base may also contain a secret CIA black site detention and torture facility. US officials have denied the latter allegations.
NBC’s sources further indicated that a number of evacuees sent to a holding facility in the Washington, DC area had previously been in the US, and that they had been deported for unspecified criminal offenses. The sources did not elaborate regarding how many individuals they were referring to.
An unnamed security official confirmed that the vetting of Afghan nationals is taking place both overseas and on US soil.
US officials previously said that emergency shelter facilities had been prepared for up to 50,000 Afghan refugees at eight separate military bases spread across the country.
Over 122,000 people were flown out of Kabul in August, and it remains unclear exactly how many were Afghans, and how many foreign nationals or soldiers. US military transports flew nearly 80,000 civilians out of the country, and Washington has estimated that roughly 5,500 of those were Americans, and 73,500 being Afghans or other foreigners. The UK carried out its own evacuation operation, reporting a total of 15,000+ evacuations, 8,000 of them Afghan nationals.
Along with the US and the UK, some of the evacuees have been sent to temporary processing centers in countries including Spain, Germany, Qatar and Uzbekistan. Some of the European nations which took part in the US-led war and occupation of Afghanistan have promised to provide refugee status to at-risk individuals, including persons who assisted their militaries.
The people taken out aboard US and other NATO transports is just a drop in the bucket among the estimated 3.5 million Afghans already internally displaced inside the war-torn country. Another 2.2 million civilians are already living in neighbouring countries due to the generations-long war in their home nation.
The International Rescue Committee, a New York-based aid and NGO organization, estimates that at least 263,000 Afghan civilians have been affiliated with the 19+ year-long US occupation of Afghanistan. It remains unclear how many of them have been evacuated, either in the final two weeks of August following the Kabul government’s collapse or in the years before that. The Taliban has promised not to harm those who worked for US or other NATO armies or the Afghan government. However, Sputnik has previously reported on numerous instances of Taliban fighters hunting down and killing, torturing, arresting beating or threatening former interpreters, security officers, former officials and others.
The United Nations has estimated that the Taliban takeover may create an additional half a million refugees, even as Afghanistan’s neighbours seek to beef up border security and limit new entries amid fears that some of these individuals may be smuggling guns or narcotics or be terrorists posing as refugees.