Missing Afghans Raise Terrorism Fears
Several Afghan nationals undergoing military training in the United States disappeared from U.S. military bases this month, according to Pentagon and Homeland Security officials.
“During the month of September, seven Afghan students were considered absent without leave (AWOL) during international military student programs,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Patrick L. Evans said.
Three of the Afghan military trainees fled from a Pentagon training program two weekends ago during the bombing spree in New York and New Jersey by Afghan-born bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami, raising concerns among security officials that the missing Afghan students may be linked to terrorism or plans for attacks in the United States.
The disappearance of the Afghans comes amid heightened fears of increasing Islamist terror attacks around the country. The attacks have included the New York area bombings and attempted bombings, a knife attack at a Minnesota mall by a Somali jihadist, and other regional shootings.
Two of the missing Afghans had been training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and one was training at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
An Army source said the Afghans who left the weekend of the New York area bombings appeared to be part of a coordinated effort. The three men are being probed for possible connections to Rahami. “Initial assessment is that there is not relation and the timing is coincidental,” the source said.
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