NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Three Afghan soldiers were missing for almost two days from a military base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts before they turned up on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.
On Saturday, one Major and two Captains of the Afghan National Army who were taking part in a 10-day regional cooperation exercise sponsored by the U.S. military were chaperoned to a mall not far from the Camp Edwards Army Base.
“It’s more like a collaboration event between different nations to see how we do things and how they do things and see how we can make them better,” said Lt. Col. James Sahady of the Massachusetts National Guard.
After being dropped off at the mall, they never got back on the military shuttle returning to the base. Instead, they traveled 500 miles and ended up walking across the Rainbow Bridge Monday afternoon. IU’s not clear if they were seeking asylum in Canada.
Canadian Border agents turned them over to U.S. agents a few hours later. All that Customs and Border officials are saying right now is they will be processed according to U.S. law.
Massachusetts State Police had been part of the search but only because the men were missing for two days.
“We had no information that would suggest that these men committed any crimes and we would therefore not have any cause to detain them ourselves or believe that they posed a particular threat,” said Sgt. Thomas Ryan.
The Massachusetts National Guard insists the men had valid passports and visas to be here, and were trusted to roam in their free time from the program. They had no access to weapons in the program.
“Most people that come to these exercises are personally invited and they’re vetted through several layers because we want to get the best and brightest here so we can collaborate,” said Sahady.
These three Afghan soldiers on Tuesday were transferred from the custody of Customs & Border Protection to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). They will eventually have to answer to Afghanistan officials about why they crossed into Canada.