Female U.S. Soldier Assaulted by Group of Afghan Refugees at Fort Bliss; FBI Launches Investigation
A female U.S. soldier was allegedly assaulted by a group of male Afghan refugees staying in Fort Bliss, New Mexico, where thousands of Afghans are currently being housed. According to Fox News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now investigating the alleged assault.
FBI Public Affairs Officer Special Agent Jeanette Harper told Fox News that they had received the referral from Fort Bliss, and their office is investigating the allegations. Fort Bliss officials have also confirmed the reported assault.
Fort Bliss Officials Reaction on Female Soldier Assaulted by Afghan Refugees
In a statement, the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Public Affairs said a female U.S. military service member supporting Operation Allies Welcome reported being assaulted by a small group of male Afghan evacuees at the Doña Ana Complex in Fort Bliss on September 19.
Fort Bliss officials said they were taking the allegation seriously and appropriately redirected the matter to the FBI. According to the statement, the service member has been provided with counseling and support.
The Operation Allies Welcome has 1,000 service members, according to an El Paso Times report. The said U.S. operation focuses on providing support to vulnerable Afghans, particularly those who have worked alongside the U.S. in Afghanistan for the past two decades.
Fort Bliss officials said that additional security and safety measures were added in the complex, adding that they will fully cooperate with the FBI and will continue to ensure that the female soldier is fully supported.
Sources with knowledge of the case told ABC-7 that at least three Afghan men attacked the female soldier near her car after she arrived at the complex for duty.
The sources said the assault was not sexual in nature. The sources added that the woman's injuries did not require hospitalization, and she was physically doing fine now. Reports said about 10,000 Afghan refugees are living at Fort Bliss.
This was not the first time that Afghan refugees were involved in a criminal allegation. Two Afghan evacuees staying at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin are facing federal charges for allegedly trying to rape a minor and suffocate a woman.
Bahrullah Noori, 20, was charged with three counts of engaging in a sexual act with a minor, with one count alleging use of force. The victims have yet to reach the age of 16 and were at least four years younger than the suspect.
The other Afghan refugee was charged with assaulting his spouse by strangling and suffocating her on September 7. He was identified as Mohammad Haroon Imaad, 32.
Officials said both men are currently being detained at the Dane County Jail, and they are scheduled for arraignment on September 23.
U.S. Resettling Afghan Refugees
Since mid-August, the U.S. has admitted around 24,000 Afghans evacuated from Kabul. More than 20,000 of them are being housed at eight military sites, temporarily hosting them.
Afghan refugees were reportedly put through COVID testing, vaccination, medical checks, and additional immigration processing, including work permit applications.
According to CBS News, they are also required to receive measles, mumps, rubio, polio, and COVID vaccinations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) noted that they are also required to undergo tuberculosis testing.
Afghan evacuees are being connected to resettlement agencies, which would help them find affordable housing and jobs once they finish processing at the military sites.
Resettlement agencies were prompted to recruit volunteers and solicit donations due to the massive scale of resettlement, which was not even seen during the evacuation of tens of thousands of refugees in Vietnam in 1975.
Resettlement agencies also said they were encountering "enormous" difficulties in trying to find permanent residences for evacuated Afghans.
Erol Kekic, a senior vice president at Church World Service, noted that this is a very traumatized population coming for a chaotic evacuation system.
Kekic added that Afghan refugees would be left in a place where they are left to fend for themselves unless agencies can get private support.
The State Department is set to launch an "Afghan Parolee Support Program" to help Afghan parolees with the services they need.
This article is owned by Latin Post
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: First Look Inside Fort Bliss' Afghan Refugee Camp - From KTSM 9 News
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