At least 11 of the 17 members of the Afghan military who went AWOL from an Air Force base in Texas and are considered deserters by their nation have turned up in the exact place you'd expect to find them in the year 2010.
They're on Facebook.
And, by the look of things, they're not unlike millions of other young men on the social networking site. One proclaims to be a fan of Paris Hilton and is a member of a group named “FREE Webcam Sex with ME!” Another is a fan of hip hop music, Michael Jackson, the tearjerker movie The Notebook, Family Guy and Sports Center. Another is a fan of soccer and the Godfather.
But others have friends whose motives may be much more sinister. Some belong to the “Afghanistan Mujahideen” group, a page that features, among other content, videos from the American-born Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, a.k.a. Azzam the American.
According to a nationwide be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) bulletin that was sent by the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task force to law enforcement agencies across the country last week, the 17 Afghan deserters walked away from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, where they had been studying English. The men have military identification that would give them access to secure U.S. military installations, the bulletin read. The existence of the BOLO alert was revealed exclusively by FoxNews.com.
One week later, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement source told FoxNews.com that only two or three of the 17 Afghans remain at large. The source said investigators have been working with Canadian immigration records and now believe that many of the men are in Canada.
David Smith, spokesman for Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, told FoxNews.com he was told that four of the men remain unaccounted for. Of the 13 who have been located, he said, six have pending refugee claims in Canada, two have permanent residency in Canada, four are in the process of being deported and one is a conditional resident alien in the U.S.
But one thing most of them have in common is an affection for social networking. FoxNews.com found Facebook pages belonging to 11 of the 17 deserters. The wife of one of them also created a page, on which she said her husband should not have appeared in the BOLO alert because authorities knew exactly where he was — at a South Texas immigration detention center, where she said he’s been held for the past eight months.
Many of the men found on Facebook appear unconcerned that they are being actively sought by law enforcement officials, having made little or no attempt to disguise their identities or whereabouts. Eleven of the men can be linked together either directly or through mutual friends on Facebook.
On June 17 at 11:50 p.m., Mohd Ali Karimi posted an online note to the Facebook pages of two of the other AWOL men, Mohammad Nasim Fateh Zada and Sardar Mohd Ahmadi.
All three list their current city as Toronto.
Zada’s profile lists his favorite quotation, Reinhold Nieburh's Serenity Prayer: “God grand me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
He says he graduated from Uluanovsk Signal Military College in 1986 and attended Military High School in Kabul, Afghanistan.
His “likes and interests” include soccer, jogging, gymnastics, history books, the movies Slumdog Millionaire and the Godfather, Fox News and CBC Radio 1.
On May 2, he posted a photo of himself at Niagara Falls, timestamped June 21, 2008.
Zada’s online friends include a U.S. Army liaison officer and other members of the Afghan military.
On Sunday, Ahmadi, 32, who belongs to a Facebook group for Defense Language Institute students, posted a link to a Fox News report, “Afghan Deserters Still Missing,” with a photo compilation in which he was included.
In the “likes and interests” section of his profile, Ahmadi includes a Dari and Arabic language group called "Afghan Muslim," which links out to a group called "National Resistance," a Pashto-language page that appears to provide secondhand news updates on militant operations in Afghanistan.
Ahmadi replied to a Facebook message from this reporter, “hi, Jana I dont know you, who you are? any way I am not missing that is my face book if every body concern about me I have my address they can come to visit me .”
He then posted this reporter’s Facebook page to his wall and sent a friend request.
When asked if he was a student at DLI, Ahmadi wrote back, "yes, I was in 2008 till 2009 that is it."
When asked why he was included in the list of missing men who walked away from Lackland Air Force Base, he replied, "I dont know just I heard news from fox news ttat is it."
Ahmadi posted a photo album of his DLI graduation ceremony. The photos were uploaded in February 2009.
He is also Facebook friends with Barsat Noorani, whose profile says he attended U.S. Army War College and Naderia High School. He says he’s single and looking for women for friendship, dating and a relationship.
Noorani lists his current location as “New Toronto,” and on different Facebook pages he lists different employers, including Total Safety, a global corporation currently involved in cleaning up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His likes and interests include Hamid Karzai and “i want a good relationship in 2010 <3.”
There are photos, posted in November and December 2009, of Noorani posing in front of Toronto’s Harbour Centre, and numerous group photos of men in Afghan military uniform eating and standing with members of the U.S. military. He also posted a link to a YouTube video called “Persian Love Song,” which features a man and woman kissing with music playing in the background.
Like many of the deserters named in the BOLO, Noorani belongs to an Arabic-language group called “Muslimen,” which provides links to outside websites, news reports, videos of preachers and videos of debates between Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, among other things.
Another AWOL Afghan on Facebook is Shawali Kakar, who introduces himself as, “hello my name is shahwali(kakar) and iam a playa cuz iam SMOOTH with the girls i am a very nice guy iam also a very cool,awsome guy, im a very though guy, did i also mean that iam a comando traning to be a pilot i am traning at the air force milliter”
He is fan of both Afghan Parliament member Shukria Barakzai -- and Paris Hilton. And he is a member of the group, “FREE Webcam Sex with ME!” (Calls cost £0.60 per minute.) His profile indicates that he graduated from Universitas Indonesia in 2001; it does not provide his current location.
Kakar appears to be a party animal, inviting friends to “come go to club again.” On March 22 he posted photos taken the day before that show him eating at a table on which one can see doughnuts, croissants, Bailey’s liquor and what appears to be a 1.75-liter bottle of alcohol. In another picture, he appears to be lying on a hotel bed. A former English teacher at DLI in Texas commented, “Kakar, do you miss your DLI room?”
His last Facebook activity appears to have been on April 2.
Some of Kakar’s friends belong to the “Afghanistan Mujahideen” group, a page that features videos from Adam Gadahn. The group is tagged in notes on a range of topics, including "jihad in the way of Allah" and "preaching the revolution of Islam."
Kakar is friends with another AWOL man named in the BOLO alert, Sayed Qadir Shah Habiby, who provides this description of himself: “I like to spend time with the people I love! I enjoy having fun in what ever I do. Life is short, live it to the fullest."
He is a fan of Michael Jackson, The Notebook and Sports Center, and he says, “I want everyone to be a Democratic.” He says he graduated from National Military Academy of Afghanistan in 2008 and Kabul Military High in 2005.
In a comment posted on a friend’s wall, Habiby reveals that he studied civil engineering at NMAA and is living in California. Last active on March 29, he belonged to a Facebook group dedicated to making Pashto Afghanistan’s only official language. The description reads, in English, “To destroy a nation, Turn it into a bilingual or multilingual country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures.”
It continues in Pashto,“75 percent of Afghanistan’s people speak Pashto, so this is the right of all Afghans that the national language be Pashto. In the near future, a grand jirga will be held in Kabul, so I request all patriotic Afghans to fulfill their responsibility and national duty in order to get their rights, and to put an end to Iran and its proxies.”
Another group Habiby belongs to is “Let us laugh,” a Pashto site described as “Let’s laugh so much that we forget our sorrows, but let’s not laugh too much because it’s harmful.”
The wife of Mohammad Fahim Faqier, one of the missing men, started a Facebook group page called “Set Fahim Free,” following his incarceration at an immigration detention center in South Texas. But she changed the page to “Setting the record straight for my husband: Mohammad Fahim Faqier,” once news broke that her husband, who she says has been detained for more than eight months, was included in the BOLO alert.
In an e-mail to FoxNews.com she wrote, “Believe me no one was more shocked than me to see my husband's name and photo on that list, especially considering the fact that he wasn't missing and ICE knew exactly where he was.”
None of the AWOL men, other than Ahmadi, replied to Facebook messages. A man named Ahmad Sameer Samar, when contacted by Fox News, replied that he was not the same Ahmad Sameer Samar named in the BOLO alert.
Additional reporting by Ahmad Shuja and Ken Contrata