Afghan refugee detained after security screening at US base in Germany

Afghan refugee detained after security screening at US base in Germany
The Afghan national’s identity has been withheld by the US

An Afghan national, evacuated to a US military base in Germany, has been kept in custody for allegedly failing a security screening, a top US general in Europe said on Thursday.

The man’s identity has been “protected” by Pentagon and he is not believed to be a “high threat.”

“He 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,” European Command chief General Tod Wolters told reporters via video conference from Pentagon.

Apart from the individual in custody, at least 58 Afghan nationals have been flagged for needing additional screening.

“During that initial in-screening process, if an individual pops red, we calmly take them out of the normal processing line, and we put them in a different location so that we can have some isolation and have a little bit of extra time to make sure that everybody is as safe and secure as possible,” Mr Wolters added.

Thousands of Afghans have been airlifted out of the country since the Taliban laid siege on Kabul on 15 August. The US ended its 20-year-long war with the Taliban in Afghanistan on 31 August after the chaotic evacuation of its troops.

Afghan evacuees have been flown to several locations across the Middle East and Europe. Mr Wolters said 155 flights with 38,000 people have landed in Europe.

“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.

The refugees, upon arrival, pass through biometric and biographical screening before they are shown to their sleeping quarters. They are screened again while departing for the US to “make sure that” Washington has “cleared as many wickets as possible.”

Earlier in August, another refugee who was flown out of Kabul was in custody in Paris for alleged current or past ties with the Taliban, Politico reported.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin announced that the Afghan national, who was airlifted for helping the French embassy to evacuate, was placed under house arrest because authorities “suspected this person to have or to have had ties with the Afghan Taliban government.”

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) defence ministers on Thursday deliberated proposals for a European rapid reaction force after the bloc was “sidelined” during the US-led evacuation from Kabul.

“If we want to be able to act autonomously and not be dependent on the choices made by others, even if these others are our friends and allies, then we have to develop our own capacities,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

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