Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base

Jana Winter, Fox News, June 17, 2010

Air traffic controllers from the 37th Operations Support Squadron prepare to navigate F-16 Falcons down the runway on Lackland Air Force Base.

A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, FoxNews.com has learned.

The Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, “Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.],” written by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas and obtained by FoxNews.com.

The Be-On-the-Lookout (BOLO) bulletin was distributed to local and federal law enforcement officials on Wednesday night.

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The most recent Afghan to disappear from Lackland was First Lt. Javed Aryan, who went AWOL in January 2010, Emery told FoxNews.com. The others listed in the NCIS report disappeared at various times last year.

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Afghans are not the only foreign military who have gone AWOL from Lackland, Emery said.

“In 2009, the Defense Language Institute English Language Center reported two other students from countries other than Afghanistan went missing,” he told FoxNews.com. “They include one Iraqi who requested asylum in Houston and one Djiboutian whose status is unknown. To date in 2010, one student from Tunisia and one from Guinea Bissau have gone AWOL in addition to the Afghani student [Aryan] who went AWOL in January.

“To put these numbers in perspective,” Emery said, “more than 3,400 international students entered training at DLI in 2009, including 228 from Afghanistan.”

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.”

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