Posted on July 21, 2010

‘BMWs’ Help Afghans Go AWOL From Texas Air Base

Jana Winter, FOX News, July 20, 2010

A loose network of Mexican-American women, some of whom may be illegal immigrants, have been responsible for helping numerous Afghan military deserters go AWOL from an Air Force Base in Texas, has learned.

Many of the Afghans, with the women’s assistance, have made their way to Canada; the whereabouts of others remain unknown. Some of the men have been schooled by the women in how to move around the U.S. without any documentation.

The Afghan deserters refer to the women as “BMWs”–Big Mexican Women–and they often are the first step in the Afghans’ journey from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to Canada, a diplomatic official told {snip}

The official’s account was supported by a source at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), who also requested anonymity. Foreign soldiers attend DLI to learn English before they receive specialized military training at various installations in the U.S.

The Afghan military men usually meet the women at three nightclubs in San Antonio, according to the DLI source, who accompanied some of the men to these locations and has been privy to discussions among them about the establishments and the women. The nightclubs include two military hangouts–Tiffany’s Cocktails and Mirage, located outside Lackland’s main gate–and Graham Central Station, a massive warehouse-like building in downtown San Antonio that houses “six nightclubs under one roof” that host a variety of theme nights. Photos on Graham Central’s website show scantily clad women rolling around in what appears to be Jell-O.

In the past eight years, no fewer than 46 members of the Afghan military have gone absent without leave from DLI. As most Afghans on the base do not have cars, many of them depended on the women to pick them up at Lackland’s back gate in the middle of the night and help them vanish.

Many of the men decided to go AWOL just hours before they were scheduled to fly home to Afghanistan, multiple sources told


The women are believed to have been responsible for picking up numerous other Afghans–including the most recent deserter, Mirza Gul Neshat, who disappeared on July 1–and for chauffeuring them on at least the first leg of their journey. In some instances, the women were the Afghans’ girlfriends; some of the men moved in with women off base just months before they went AWOL. {snip}

The women who help the deserters are like groupies, sources told Many are single and older than the Afghans, who tend to be in their early 20s. {snip}

But the women do more than drive the “getaway cars”; sources said they also provide the deserters with crucial advice and encouragement, apparently drawn from their own personal experiences. The women, they said, have told some of the men that it’s possible to live in the U.S. illegally.


The official said most of the students were too afraid of life on the run to ever consider going AWOL–until they met the women, who assured them that many people live illegally in the U.S. and in Canada without getting caught or deported.