Afghan Military Officer Apprehended in Montana After Deserting U.S. Training

Cascade County Police
Cascade County Police

An Afghan military officer, who deserted last month while participating in a U.S.-based training program, was apprehended by federal authorities on an Amtrak train en route to Washington state, according to U.S. Border Patrol.

While a U.S. Border Patrol official said that two Afghan military officers absconded, an American military official said only one failed to report for training.

Mustafa Tanin, a lieutenant in the Afghan Army, was admitted into the U.S. in May for a Basic American Language Instructor Course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Tanin deserted in September while training in Washington D.C. and was subsequently classified as absent without leave (AWOL). His U.S. visa was cancelled as a result.

An Afghan army officer who was apprehended by American authorities after he went AWOL last year while training in the U.S. was granted asylum and released.

On Tuesday, Tanin was arrested by Border Patrol agents when the Amtrak train he was on stopped to refuel in Havre, Montana, home to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) station along America’s border with Canada.

The agents boarded the train in search of somebody else, when they found Tanin and questioned him, Border Patrol Agent Craig Duff, spokesman for the CBP Havre station, told the Associated Press (AP).

U.S. Border Patrol is a component of CBP.

“He initially claimed to be from Mongolia,” reportedly said Duff. “During questioning, he admitted to being from Afghanistan.”

“During questioning, the subject, identified as Mustafa Tanin, was unable to provide any immigration documents,” notes a statement from CBP. “Further investigation revealed that Tanin is an officer in the Afghan military who had been previously admitted to the United States to attend military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.”

Border Patrol agents found an identification document on Tanin and discovered that his U.S. visa had been canceled because he had deserted the training program, Border Patrol Agent Melissa Hart told AP.

The program Tanin was supposed to attend is aimed at improving the English skills of foreign military personnel and civilians so that they can teach the language in their home countries, reportedly explained U.S. Air Force Maj. Toni Whaley.

Maj. Whaley revealed that Tanin “failed to report for activities during a weeklong field study in Washington, D.C.”

The head of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center declared him an international military student absent without leave [AWOL] for deserting on September 29 while on a training trip to Washington D.C. and his U.S. visa was cancelled.

Duff indicated that Tanin may not have been alone when he deserted.

“When the original information came out back in September, it listed two and that’s all I’ve heard of that,” Duff told Breitbart News. “There’s no updates or anything on the second person.”

However, Maj. Whaley told AP that Tanin was the only person who failed to report to the training program.

“While there have been others who have absconded while in training, there is a well-coordinated process among federal agencies to locate the individuals as quickly as possible and return them to their respective homeland,” said Whaley.

Duff told Breitbart News he was not aware of any other Afghan officers who are currently considered to be at-large in the United States after going AWOL.

There have been other instances in the past involving Afghan security force officers absconding while participating in U.S.-based training programs.

In September 2014, five members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), two policemen and three soldiers, went missing while participating in two separate programs.

The policemen were eventually arrested outside of Washington, D.C., and the three Afghan Army officers were detained at the Canadian border.

“They said they feared retribution by the Taliban because of their work with U.S. soldiers,” reports AP, referring to the three Afghan military officers.

“Canada denied the [three] men entry and returned them to the U.S., which began deportation proceedings against them,” adds the report.

One of the three Afghan military officers was granted asylum by the United States.

Tanin is being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Great Falls, Montana.

He is to be transported to Salt Lake City to face deportation proceedings, according to Border Patrol Agent Hart.

CBP Havre station spokesman Agent Duff said that “Tanin did not give a reason for leaving the training, did not ask for political asylum and did not resist arrest.”

ICE and CBP are part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


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