US Homeland Security searching for two Afghan military trainees

December 12, 2015 01:47
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The US government is still searching for two Afghan aircraft maintenance students who went missing this week while receiving training at a US Air Force base in Georgia, and will revoke the men's visas, officials said on Friday.

The two men, who failed to report for duty on Monday to Moody Air Force Base in the town of Valdosta, are still considered to pose no threat to public safety, said Air Force spokeswoman Major Melissa Milner.

Their disappearance comes at a time of heightened vigilance against possible attacks in the United States, after a married couple who the FBI says were inspired by Islamic extremists opened fire at a county office center in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2, killing 14 people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security, is the lead investigative agency looking for the two Afghan trainees, said Bryan Cox, a spokesman for ICE.

The US State Department is poised to revoke the two men's visas, he said.

"The process that's happening here is the standard process for anybody that is not compliant with the terms of their visa," Cox said.

The students, who were screened by the US and Afghan governments before coming to the United States, were assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron, Milner said. They began their training in the spring and were scheduled to graduate next week, she said.

It was not known why they left the base and US officials declined to release their names.

More than 160,000 Afghans have left their country for Europe this year, most spurred by poor job prospects and worsening security as Taliban insurgents grow more powerful after the bulk of NATO troops withdrew at the end of 2014.

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