This is somewhat confusing, to me anyway, but if 7 of the missing Afghans have been found why were all 17 on the alert list? At any rate, Fox has the update:
Ten of 17 Afghan military deserters who walked away from a training program on a U.S. Air Force base in Texas remain at large, sources close to the situation told Fox News on Friday, and seven of the men have been accounted for.
The 17 deserters went AWOL from Lackland Air Force Base, where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, according to a "Be-on-the-Lookout" (BOLO) bulletin issued on Wednesday.
Sources said that as of November 2009, one of the deserters was in Canada, one is now a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., one has left the country and another four are in federal custody and in removal proceedings. The other 10 remain unaccounted for.
On Wednesday night, the BOLO bulletin listing all 17 deserters was distributed to local and federal law enforcement officials and joint terrorism task force members across the country.
But it's really no big deal:
A senior law enforcement official said Friday that the Afghans' disappearance was more of an immigration violation than a security threat, saying there are no "strong indications to any terrorism nexus or impending threat."
"A number of these guys have already been located or accounted for by now," the official said. "Some are in removal proceedings to be deported already. (Authorities) still need to locate the others, and that is why the bulletin went out."
The official said the information is "kind of old" -- up to two years -- but added, "It is important in the sense that some people look to come to the U.S. and will take advantage of invitations to train or attend a conference or to study, etc. But their real intention is to get to the U.S. and start a new life. It is not completely rare for this to happen....
On Friday, ICE released this statement:
“A routine bulletin was created to inform the U.S. law enforcement community about 17 Afghan soldiers who have deserted in recent years while attending language training at the Defense Language Institute facility in Texas. There is no information that any of these individuals pose a national security threat. Previous indications are that such foreign military deserters typically do so solely for prospects of a better life. This type of bulletin serves to identify foreign military deserters, request investigative leads, and enable ICE to take appropriate enforcement action.”
Just routine. Apparently it happens all the time. Only 10 Afghans missing, AWOL, what could possibly go wrong? But one Senator is taking it seriously:
On Friday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn sent a letter to the secretary of the Air Force demanding answers on the current status of the AWOL Afghans, which he called a breach of national security. Cornyn, a Republican, asked Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley for an immediate report on the status of the missing men and an assessment of the potential threat to citizens of Texas. He demanded to know why he was not informed about the missing Afghans over the course of the last two years.
I guess some folks forgot.