Suspect Afghan evacuees put focus on European security screening
Paris: The discovery of Afghan evacuees representing potential security risks in France and Britain has put the spotlight on screening efforts during the evacuation operation with Western diplomats working under extreme pressure in Kabul.
Five Afghans who arrived in France in recent days have been placed under surveillance for possible links to the Taliban, including one who was detained after he briefly breached control orders imposed by security forces.
In Britain, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Monday that there were "people trying to take advantage of this process to get into the UK to cause us harm" following reports that five potentially dangerous individuals had tried to board planes.
One of them on a so-called "no-fly list" succeeded in travelling to Birmingham, central England, where he was investigated and deemed "not a person of interest to the security agencies or law enforcement", the interior ministry said.
Politicians in both countries have sought to reassure the public, underlining that the systems in place to weed out dangerous individuals from the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or Islamic State group are functioning.
During the 2015 migrant crisis in Europe, several Islamic State members who later plotted attacks in Paris are known to have concealed themselves in the mass of people who fled the Syrian civil war through Turkey, Greece and other EU countries.
"We know all of the people who have arrived on our territory, brought back by the army," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told Franceinfo radio on Tuesday shortly after a new flight carrying around 200 Afghans landed in Paris.
The main suspect among the five people under surveillance in France has confessed to being a member of the Taliban, but he also assisted with evacuation efforts "at an incredibly tense moment and probably saved lives," government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Tuesday. - AFP