Missing Afghan soldiers in Canada
By BRIAN LILLEY, Parliamentary Bureau
The Toronto Sun
Last Updated: July 20, 2010 6:31pm
OTTAWA – American officials looking for 17 Afghan military trainees who wandered off a Texas airbase have located most of the missing men — and nearly half of them are in Canada.
Between 2006 and January 2010, 17 soldiers sent by Afghanistan to train at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas have disappeared. Air Force public affairs officer Capt. Rose Richeson says eight of the 17 men are in Canada, the New York Times reports.
Six of the eight are believed to have claimed refugee status, and two are believed to been granted permanent residency. Officials with the immigration department did not return calls seeking comment.
While the men deserted over several years, news of their departures from the base only surfaced in the last few weeks when American military officials issued notices for base security personnel across the U.S. to be on the lookout for the men, who may still have their base access cards.
Fox News cites both diplomatic and local sources who claim that the men who made it to Canada may have done so with the help of what is described as a loose network of Mexican-American women. The women are said to have helped the men desert the military by providing advice and resources.