BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – News 4 has learned that the two Afghanistan officers training in the United States tried to check into the refuge center in Buffalo.
The interim executive director of Vive La Casa says the pair stayed for a few hours before leaving.
“Yes. They were here; they came in on Thursday,” said Shelly Schratz.
Mohammad Yasin Ataye, 22, and Mohd Naweed Samimi, 24, were picked up by federal agents Thursday and returned to Quantico, Virginia. The two men disappeared in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. nine days ago.
“Like everyone else comes in, they came in here and said they wanted to go to Canada. We looked at their records and papers,” said Schratz.
When they arrived, they told staff at Vive La Casa about their training program.
Schratz said, “Well they were very honest and up front they told our legal department they wanted to go to Canada and they were training in the United States with the DEA and they didn’t want to go back.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been running the Sensitive Investigation Unit for around for 17 years, which trains police officers from other countries on how to stop the illegal drug flow in their own countries. DEA spokesman Rusty Payne says these two Afghan policemen were guests, not prisoners.
“They are starting from scratch and our training is designed to help build drug investigations and help strengthen and build the rule of law there,” said Payne.
Both officers didn’t stay the night at Vive La Casa, although they paid the fee to live there for a week.
“We told them we had to look into it, and it doesn’t happen that often. We told them we were going look into it and then they disappeared. We think they got spooked,” said Schratz.
Payne says the pair were picked up in Buffalo on Thursday night and they decided to go back to Afghanistan. They were sent back on Friday along with the other 31 officers in the program from other countries.
“This is a very, very rare occurrence. We wouldn’t bring anybody to the U.S. if they posed a security threat,” said Payne. “I suspect there will be some oversight but I don’t think this represents a significant problem.”