EXCLUSIVE: AWOL Afghans Found ... on Facebook
By Jana Winter & Kelli Morgan
NCIS and ICE, partners in the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force.
At least 11 of the 17 members of the Afghan military who went AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas and are considered deserters by their nation have turned up in the exact place you'd expect to find them in the year 2010.
They're on Facebook.
And, by the look of things, they're not unlike millions of other young men on the social networking site. One proclaims to be a fan of Paris Hilton and is a member of a group named “FREE Webcam Sex with ME!” Another is a fan of hip hop music, Michael Jackson, the tearjerker movie The Notebook, Family Guy and Sports Center. Another is a fan of soccer and the Godfather.
But others have friends whose motives may be much more sinister. Some belong to the “Afghanistan Mujahideen” group, a page that features, among other content, videos from the American-born Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, a.k.a. Azzam the American.
According to a nationwide be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) bulletin that was sent by the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task force to law enforcement agencies across the country last week, the 17 Afghan deserters walked away from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, where they had been studying English. The men have military identification that would give them access to secure U.S. military installations, the bulletin read. The existence of the BOLO alert was revealed exclusively by FoxNews.com.
EXCLUSIVE: Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base
EXCLUSIVE: 10 of 17 Afghans Who Deserted U.S. Air Force Base Remain Missing
Texas Lawmakers Outraged That Afghans Went AWOL From Air Force Base One week later, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement source told FoxNews.com that only two or three of the 17 Afghans remain at large. The source said investigators have been working with Canadian immigration records and now believe that many of the men are in Canada.
David Smith, spokesman for Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, told FoxNews.com he was told that four of the men remain unaccounted for. Of the 13 who have been located, he said, six have pending refugee claims in Canada, two have permanent residency in Canada, four are in the process of being deported and one is a conditional resident alien in the U.S.
But one thing most of them have in common is an affection for social networking. FoxNews.com found Facebook pages belonging to 11 of the 17 deserters. The wife of one of them also created a page, on which she said her husband should not have appeared in the BOLO alert because authorities knew exactly where he was — at a South Texas immigration detention center, where she said he’s been held for the past eight months.
Many of the men found on Facebook appear unconcerned that they are being actively sought by law enforcement officials, having made little or no attempt to disguise their identities or whereabouts. Eleven of the men can be linked together either directly or through mutual friends on Facebook.
On June 17 at 11:50 p.m., Mohd Ali Karimi posted an online note to the Facebook pages of two of the other AWOL men, Mohammad Nasim Fateh Zada and Sardar Mohd Ahmadi.
All three list their current city as Toronto.
Zada’s profile lists his favorite quotation, Reinhold Nieburh's Serenity Prayer: “God grand me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
He says he graduated from Uluanovsk Signal Military College in 1986 and attended Military High School in Kabul, Afghanistan.
His “likes and interests” include soccer, jogging, gymnastics, history books, the movies Slumdog Millionaire and the Godfather, Fox News and CBC Radio 1.
On May 2, he posted a photo of himself at Niagara Falls, timestamped June 21, 2008.
Zada’s online friends include a U.S. Army liaison officer and other members of the Afghan military.
On Sunday, Ahmadi, 32, who belongs to a Facebook group for Defense Language Institute students, posted a link to a Fox News report, “Afghan Deserters Still Missing,” with a photo compilation in which he was included.
In the “likes and interests” section of his profile, Ahmadi includes a Dari and Arabic language group called "Afghan Muslim," which links out to a group called "National Resistance," a Pashto-language page that appears to provide secondhand news updates on militant operations in Afghanistan.
Ahmadi replied to a Facebook message from this reporter, “hi, Jana I dont know you, who you are? any way I am not missing that is my face book if every body concern about me I have my address they can come to visit me .”
He then posted this reporter’s Facebook page to his wall and sent a friend request.
When asked if he was a student at DLI, Ahmadi wrote back, "yes, I was in 2008 till 2009 that is it."
When asked why he was included in the list of missing men who walked away from Lackland Air Force Base, he replied, "I dont know just I heard news from fox news ttat is it."
Ahmadi posted a photo album of his DLI graduation ceremony. The photos were uploaded in February 2009.
He is also Facebook friends with Barsat Noorani, whose profile says he attended U.S. Army War College and Naderia High School. He says he’s single and looking for women for friendship, dating and a relationship.
Noorani lists his current location as “New Toronto,” and on different Facebook pages he lists different employers, including Total Safety, a global corporation currently involved in cleaning up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His likes and interests include Hamid Karzai and “i want a good relationship in 2010
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