Two Afghan refugees have been indicted on assault charges stemming from incidents at a military base in Wisconsin that houses thousands of recently evacuated Afghan nationals.
A federal grand jury indicted Bahrullah Noori, 20, on charges that he tried to molest two underage boys. The grand jury issued a separate indictment against Mohammad Haroom Imaad, 32, on charges that he strangled and suffocated his wife. Noori and Imaad were among 12,500 refugees airlifted from Afghanistan to Fort McCoy during the U.S. military withdrawal last month.
The cases are likely to stoke concerns about the government's vetting process for the 100,000 refugees brought to the United States during the airlift. Gov. Tony Evers (D., Wis.) accused conservatives last month of engaging in "dog whistle crap" for questioning the screening process. Republicans have cast doubt on the Biden administration's ability to screen for suspected terrorists and other criminals. Speaking at an event at Fort McCoy on Aug. 31, Evers said that Republicans were "vastly uninformed" about the screening process.
Days earlier, Evers welcomed the refugees to Wisconsin, saying that "a lot of families, a lot of women, a lot of kids" were being housed at Fort McCoy. "They were vetted when they were in Europe. They were vetted when they were in the U.S. So I feel very confident what's happening is the right thing," Evers said.
According to an FBI affidavit, Noori was caught molesting a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy in a bathroom at Fort McCoy. A witness caught Noori trying to have sex with the 14-year-old and later trying to kiss the younger boy.
The boys told investigators that Noori fondled them repeatedly and pressured them to have sex, according to the affidavit.
Imaad was arrested days after his wife said he beat and choked her during an incident on Sept. 7. The woman said that Imaad had abused their children, and that he had raped her and threatened to kill her while they were at Fort McCoy. She said that Imaad told her that 9 Afghan women had been killed at Fort McCoy and that she would be the 10th. She also said that Imaad threatened to send her back to Afghanistan, where she would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
It is unclear what qualified Noori and Imaad for refugee status. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for details on their qualification as refugees. Evers's office also did not respond to a request for comment about the cases.
Noori and Imaad appeared in federal court on Sept. 16 and are being held at the Dane County Jail, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
Noori faces a minimum of 30 years in prison if convicted. Imaad faces up to 10 years in prison.