Grassley: Due to lax security, at least 70 Afghan refugees in US are a security threat

NEW HARTFORD — Many thousands of refugees from Afghanistan have found new homes in the U-S in recent months, with several hundred settling in Iowa, and now Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says there’s new evidence several dozen of them should never have been allowed into the country.

 Grassley says, “At least 70 of these people have been identified as maybe possible national security threats and does the FBI know where they are?”

FBI Director Chris Wray appeared before a senate panel earlier this month and Grassley asked him where those Afghans who are possible security threats were located. Grassley says Wray didn’t know, but promised to find out and get back to them. Grassley says the security screenings were insufficient.  “We’re also concerned the extent to which their proper vetting of everybody that came to the country and everybody should be properly vetted,” Grassley says, “but we think that 70 had been either vetted or had other suspicions of them being possible national security threats, and that’s what we’re trying to find out.”

Grassley says there needs to be more transparency about the Afghan refugees who were flagged by the National Ground Intelligence Center as potential security threats. Grassley says there’s no way to know if any of the Afghans who now live in Iowa are among those who are potential security threats. Still, he says he’s confident the vast majority of the refugees are “hard working” people and will contribute to Iowa’s economy.  “A little bit like we have learned, maybe at the time the Vietnamese boat people came to Iowa 40-50 years ago,” Grassley says. “We probably had some doubt about whether we should be doing that, but for the most part, they’ve turned out to be very contributing people to the economy of Iowa and really good Iowans.”

At least 700 Afghan refugees have settled in Iowa in the past year, according to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa.