Ns News Online Desk: The FBI confirmed Friday that it is investigating a report that a female service member was assaulted by a group of male Afghan refugees who are being housed at Fort Bliss. In a statement to Fox News, officials said the service member had reported that the assault took place Sept. 19 at the fort’s Doña Ana Range Complex in New Mexico, where the refugees are being put up.
“We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the statement read. “The safety and well-being of our service members, as well as all of those on our installations, is paramount.”
An FBI spokesperson confirmed to The Post late Friday that the bureau had “received the referral from Fort Bliss, and the FBI El Paso office is investigating the allegation.”
The report comes days after two Afghan refugees were indicted by a federal grand jury in Wisconsin in connection alleged crimes committed while they were staying at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.Bahrullah Noori, 20, was accused of engaging in a sex act with a minor on three separate occasions at the facility and attempting to engage in a sex act with another minor. Mohammad Haroon Imaad, 32, was accused of assaulting his wife –who alleged to military authorities that her husband repeatedly struck their children, raped her and threatened to “send her back to Afghanistan where the Taliban could deal with her.”
In the aftermath of the evacuation from Afghanistan, officials have raised concerns that temporary housing facilities for refugees could become a hunting ground for sex criminals. Republican lawmakers have also raised concerns that the Biden administration had allowed Afghans with criminal records or ties to terror groups to be flown out of the war-torn country while thousands of others who assisted US-led NATO forces during the 20-year war against the Taliban were left to fend for themselves in hostile territory.
One of those lawmakers, Rep. Yvette Harrell (R-NM), tweeted Friday: “My prayers are with the courageous soldier and her family. This is yet another tragic failure in the vetting process for Afghan nationals. The American people deserve answers.”
The Fort Bliss statement noted that the service member was supporting Operation Allies Welcome, the Biden administration initiative to resettle Afghan refugees in the US.During a conference call with reporters earlier Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas touted the vetting system put in place for Afghan evacuees.
“If someone fails these checks while they are still overseas, they will not be permitted to board a flight to the United States,” he said, later adding: “If, upon landing in the United States, further security vetting at the port of entry raises any concern about a person, Customs and Border Protection has the authority to not grant them entry into the United States.”
According to Jack Markell, the White House coordinator Operation Allies Welcome, more than 50,000 Afghans are being housed at eight military installations around the US — including Fort Bliss — with another 12,000 due to arrive early next month from bases in Europe.