It’s not as if we weren’t aware that some of this would be going on, but I’ll confess that I didn’t think these stories would start coming out so quickly. It’s also worth suggesting that if we have to take one from column A or one from column B, I suppose I’ll go with a criminal illegal alien than an actual member of ISIS. But it’s still not a great situation. The incident in question, reported at the Daily Wire, involves 47-year old Ghader Heydari. He emigrated to the United States in the 90s and somehow qualified for a green card in 2000. But he pleaded guilty to a rape in Idaho in 2010. After serving five years in prison, he was released but his green card was revoked (obviously). He was ordered to be deported, which happened in 2017.
Fast forward a few years and Heydari somehow winds up back in Afghanistan. Then, during the disaster we saw unfold this month in Kabul, he somehow winds up on an Ethiopian refugee flight out of the country. Where does he wind up next? You guessed it. Washington Dulles International Airport. Thankfully, his name raised a red flag and he was arrested yet again.
A man who boarded an evacuation flight out of Afghanistan has been detained by U.S. law enforcement officials on U.S. soil after it was discovered that he was previously deported after being convicted of rape.
“When American citizens were having trouble catching flights out of Kabul, Ghader Heydari made it on an Ethiopian Airlines charter flight for evacuees,” The Washington Times’s Stephen Dinan reported. “Border officials flagged the 47-year-old on his arrival at Washington Dulles International Airport. They appear to be the first to have spotted his criminal and immigration history and derailed his entry.”
The report said that Heydari was being held at the Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green, Virginia and that it’s not clear how he got on the flight given that it was “unlikely” that he had a Special Immigrant Visa or that he was a refugee.
We can perhaps take some comfort from this story in the fact that the system seems to have worked, albeit a bit after the fact. Heydari was eventually flagged and not allowed to simply disappear into the interior of the country and he can now be processed like any other criminal illegal alien.
But the process seems to have failed at several stages so officials are seeking answers to a number of questions. It’s virtually impossible that he would have been granted a Special Immigrant Visa given his previous history. So why was he put on one of the flights heading to the United States rather than being held in a third country while his background was checked? One possibility is that he was granted parole by DHS, which can be done during a humanitarian crisis.
Another possibility is that there was just so much panic and confusion during the final days and hours of the evacuation that people were just being waived through if there was room on the flight for anyone. Or it could be a combination of both of those factors. But that doesn’t explain how he got on the second flight to Washington.
Don’t take this as a suggestion that a comparative handful of these cases (and there have been others already) means we shouldn’t have evacuated or rescued anyone. It’s just an acknowledgment that we still have to run down all of the names and check them against all of the available records. It’s a time-consuming process and the odds are that we’ll miss some bad apples here and there, but we obviously have the ability to do at least some level of competent screening if we caught this guy. Far more worrisome is the possibility that the next guy we don’t catch during screening actually will turn out to be an ISIS agent.
Given enough time, we’ll get this all sorted out. And sooner or later we should get some answers as to how the situation in Afghanistan was allowed to fly so far out of control so quickly. Or at least I hope so. You might want to keep your fingers crossed for a bit longer on that one.