Psaki: ‘We Have a Stringent Vetting Process’

By Melanie Arter | August 24, 2021 | 4:39pm EDT
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on August 11, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on August 11, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the United States has “a stringent vetting process” when it comes to welcoming refugees from Afghanistan, although she said she could not speak directly to a report that at least one Afghan who was evacuated from the region had suspected ties to ISIS.

Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked, “Is there any concerned that maybe trying to reach this deadline and get everybody out that mistakes are being made now that there is a report that at least one of the Afghans evacuated to Qatar has suspected ISIS ties?”


“First, I would say we have a stringent vetting process which includes background checks before any individual comes to the United States, so I can’t speak to one individual, but I can tell you and confirm to you that we take the vetting of any individual who comes to the United States and comes out incredibly seriously, and it’s an extensive process,” Psaki responded.

“I would say that this is on track to be the largest airlift in U.S. history, so and that is bringing American citizens out. It is bringing our Afghan partners out. It is bringing allies out, so no, I would not say that is anything but a success,” she said.

Defense One reported that “security screeners at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar have detected that at least one of the Afghans who was evacuated from Kabul Airport has potential ties to ISIS,” according to a U.S. official.

The article further states:

 

Moreover, the Defense Department’s Automated Biometric Identification System has flagged up to 100 of the 7,000 Afghans evacuated as prospective recipients of Special Immigration Visas as potential matches to intelligence agency watch lists, a second official said. 

At least 6,000 fleeing Afghans have been evacuated to Al Udeid and thousands more have been flown to other temporary staging bases throughout the Middle East and Europe by U.S. military aircraft. At those bases, Customs and Border Patrol screeners are checking evacuees’ IDs and biometric data against law enforcement databases, the first official said. 

Ultimately, thousands of those Afghans will come to the United States, where they will be initially housed at several military bases, such as Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Lee in Virginia.

“There’s certainly been a number of them” who triggered alerts, requiring agents to pull those evacuees aside for further screening, the first official said. In most cases, those Afghans—many of whom have already been vetted through the special immigrant visa process—were cleared by follow-on screening. 

But in at least one case, the evacuee “looks like a potential member of ISIS,” the first official said. “They’re still working that through.” 

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