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Afghan evacuee detained after screening at US base in Germany ‘not of high threat’

Published: Updated:

An Afghan evacuee who was sent to a US military base in Germany has been detained after being flagged during a security screening, online news media the New York Post reported on Saturday, citing a top US military official.

“That individual is currently in the appropriate custody of US interagency officials, and Germany has been very, very cooperative, and we are still working his background investigation,” head of US European Command, Air Force General Tod Wolters, told reporters during a phone briefing at the Pentagon.

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He reportedly added that the Afghan man was “not of a high threat as far as I know.”

Wolters did not reveal the name of the man who was detained but noted that the airbase (Rammstein) started processing evacuees from Afghanistan on August 20. He stated that around 58 Afghans needed further screening and anticipated that “all 58 will probably clear.”

Afghan citizens, who have been evacuated from Kabul, disembark from a U.S Air Force transport plane as they arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
Afghan citizens, who have been evacuated from Kabul, disembark from a U.S Air Force transport plane as they arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)

Initial screening of Afghan evacuees

The initial screening of evacuees takes place immediately upon arrival onto the base and involves a “biometric and biographic screening so that through DOD [Defense Department] channels, through CBP [Customs and Border Protection] channels, through FBI channels, we have comprehensively scrutinized their background,” he explained.

Afghan citizens, who have been evacuated from Kabul, arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
Afghan citizens, who have been evacuated from Kabul, arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

When the evacuees prepare to depart, they are then screened “one more time to ensure that from a biometric and biographical standpoint, [they are] cleared through DOD, CBP, and FBI, that they continue to remain in the green,” Wolters added.

If someone shows up as red, they “calmly take them out of the normal processing line… put them in a different location” in order to isolate the individuals and give themselves “a little bit of extra time to make sure that everybody is as safe and secure as possible,” he said.

US military facilities in Europe

Four Europe-based US military facilities are being used to process evacuees before traveling to the US, which include: Germany’s Rammstein Air Base and Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Naval Station Rota in Cadiz in Spain, and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.

“On the ground at this very moment, we have 12,000 Afghan evacuees at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, 5,000 evacuees in Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Germany, 2,500 evacuees and Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy and 1,800 Afghan evacuees at Naval Station Rota in Spain,” he said.

People, who have been evacuated from Kabul, arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
People, who have been evacuated from Kabul, arrive at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Air Base in Rota, southern Spain, August 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)

According to Wolters, the four bases have so far taken a total of 38,000 refugees and sent 16,000 to the US since August 20- most of which were processed in the Rammstein airbase.

The Biden Administration has come under fire by several Republicans who have accused it of evacuating Afghan with no connection to the US at the expense of those who assisted US-led NATO forces during their 20-year-war with the Taliban, leaving them to fend for themselves amid the Taliban takeover.

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