FBI ‘actively’ investigating Afghan evacuees in US flagged as suspected terrorists, security threats: Wray
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The FBI and its joint terrorism task forces are “actively” investigating individuals considered national security threats and suspected terrorists who entered the United States after being evacuated from Afghanistan last year, he said Thursday FBI Director Christopher Wray, though he admitted the bureau doesn’t know where “everyone.” ” are found at any given time.
A Defense Department whistleblower told Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that 324 of the people the Biden administration evacuated from Afghanistan and welcomed into the U.S. have turned up on the Pentagon’s watch list, including known and suspected terrorists.
Fox News reported in February that at least 50 Afghan evacuees were brought to the US in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, whose information indicated “potentially serious security concerns”. The information came in a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, which revealed that US government officials were unable to locate dozens of those individuals who had “derogatory information” that would have made them ineligible for parole .
A footnote in that inspector general’s report said that “significant security concerns include individuals whose latent fingerprints have been found on improvised explosive devices and known or suspected terrorists” and for whom officials would forward this derogatory information to appropriate Pentagon personnel.
PENTAGON IG REPORT SAYS 50 AFGHANI evacuees brought to us had ‘POTENTIALLY SIGNIFICANT SECURITY PROBLEMS’
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Hawley asked Wray about the whistleblower report and whether he was aware that 324 people, not 50, had entered the U.S. with defamatory information, presenting a “more serious situation “.
“I don’t know if I have the exact number,” Wray stated. “I know there are a number of individuals through our joint terrorism task forces that we are actively trying to investigate as a result.”
Wray told Hawley that there have been “a number of interviews with people who came, a lot of interviews, frankly, with people who came as part of the evacuation.”
“I think there have been several interruptions,” he said. “How many of them have been arrested and on what charges, etc., I should get back to you.”
Wray told the committee that the Joint Terrorism Task Forces are “engaged in the effort to investigate possible terrorist activity, and any of them could involve people who came from Afghanistan.”
Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Wray if the FBI knows where the flagged evacuees are in the US.
“We have a lot of information about where people are,” Wray said. “I can’t sit here right now and say we know where everyone is at any given moment.”
The whistleblower also alleged that White House and DOD officials directed agency personnel to cut corners and not conduct full fingerprint tests of Afghan evacuees.
Wray said he was not familiar with that information, but defended the Biden administration’s vetting process.
“This was a massive number of people to screen in an extraordinarily short period of time,” he said. “And it inevitably raises concerns.”
Hawley and Johnson are now demanding answers from acting Pentagon inspector general Sean O’Donnell and calling for an immediate investigation into the whistleblowers’ new allegations.
The whistleblower also alleged that Department of Homeland Security staff had been authorized to delete old biometric data whenever they personally believed that information was out of date, which the senators said could “understand the integrity of existing databases and undermine national security.”
PENTAGON: WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN ‘NO QUESTIONS’ MAKES IDENTIFICATION OF TERROR THREATS MORE DIFFICULT
A DHS spokesperson told Fox News earlier this year that Afghan evacuees went through a rigorous screening and vetting process that spans many government agencies.
“The federal government is taking advantage of all available tools to ensure that no person who poses a threat to public safety or national security is allowed to enter the United States,” the DHS spokesman said.
DHS, at the time, said it could not comment on the details of individual cases, but said that after evacuation from Afghanistan and before being cleared to travel to the US, Afghan evacuees are taken to transit points international where the US government collects and reviews biometric and biographical information.
STATE DEPARTMENT ON AFGHAN REFUGEES IN US: ‘WE’RE FINALLY ACCOUNTING’
Officials said only those evacuees who pass thorough screening are approved to travel to the United States