Thousands of Afghan commandos may turn to Daesh if Washington fails to evacuate them from the war-torn country, a former US navy special warfare intelligence chief has warned.
Glenn Pangelinan, nicknamed Pango, is a human intelligence officer who served multiple deployments with the US military in Afghanistan supporting Navy SEALs. Since the US withdrawal, he’s worked tirelessly helping veteran groups extract vulnerable Afghan allies.
“We’re not in the business of leaving people behind,” Pangelinan, a native of Guam, told Fox News.
“This is critical as a statement to those in Europe and those in Asia that when you help the United States, we’re going to stand by you no matter what,” he added.
Pango just returned from a two-week site survey to his native Guam to meet with the governor and see if Guam could serve as a transit hub for thousands of Afghan commandos and their families.
What keeps him and other veteran-led private rescue groups _ as well as certain members of Congress — up at night are the highly trained Afghan commandos who are still in safe houses across Afghanistan, thinking the US is coming to rescue them and are getting increasingly desperate.
“The estimate is 5,600. They’re completely vetted. These are individuals that were given tradecraft by the intelligence community,” Pango explained.
“These are folks who have been given special tactics of weapons training,” he said.
And the US may need them again someday to fight ISIS (ISIL or Daesh).
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., wants Congress to pass legislation to make it easier for the Joe Biden administration to evacuate these vetted allies.
“These commandos are trained, highly trained, on how we do signals intelligence, how we do human intelligence, how we operate,” Waltz said in an interview.
“We know that the Taliban are hunting them down. They are seeking to force them through coercion to hand over that information so that they can use it and they can understand how we operate,” Waltz added.
Veterans fear if the Afghan commandos get desperate enough, they will sell their skills to terrorist groups like the Taliban and ISIS.
“If people are selling their children at this point in time, which it has been reported they have been in Afghanistan,” Pango explained, “what would a person do to save their children or their family if they’re threatened by ISIS, KP or the Taliban? What would you do? We can only consider the worst.”
The Afghan commando training program was always a favorite for US generals to show off to visiting dignitaries from Washington.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was photographed meeting with Afghan female commandos in 2019. The commandos may in fact be needed again if the US has to go back to Afghanistan.
“The Defense Department is saying ISIS could strike the homeland in the next six months. That means we may have to go back as soldiers,” said Waltz, the first Green Beret ever elected to Congress.
“We may have to send our special operators back to deal with the rising ISIS and al Qaeda threat. Now they all know our tactics, techniques and procedures that puts future American soldiers on the line. So it’s even more critical then, that we get these commandos out,” Waltz added.
When asked at NATO headquarters about the commandos, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised to help.
“We’re not finished. We will continue our work, and so we’ll work as hard as we can as long as we need to take care of as many people as we possibly can,” Austin stated in Brussels last month.
One option is to airlift the commandos to Guam, the US protectorate that has historically served as an evacuation hub for wartime allies. Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese refugees were sent there after the fall of Saigon on orders from President Gerald Ford.
“President Ford in the case of South Vietnam directed the entire federal government and passed legislation in Congress to use Guam for evacuations of our allies that we knew the North Vietnamese would capture, torture, detain and indoctrinate and treat horribly,” Waltz continued.
“Guam has been a kind of way station for the entirety of American history really to help our allies for moral reasons, for national security reasons, but then to also provide a way station for the appropriate vetting before they come to the United States. And I think it would work perfectly fine again now,” Waltz noted.
The governor of Guam wrote to President Biden in June offering the Pacific Island as a solution.
“Guam has stood ready to serve as a safe and secure route for this type of humanitarian effort throughout our history. And today, it is no different. I assure you that my administration is prepared to assist in executing your plans on this matter should Guam be chosen,” wrote Gov. Lourdes Guerrero.
The island has also housed Kurdish fighters whom the US military evacuated after it left Iraq.
Glen Pangelinan says the island protectorate could house up to 30,000 Afghans.
“When it comes to these commandos, they’ve gone through so many different processes for vetting before they’re recruited, while they’re in training and then post-training as each team trades off unit to continue the mission,” Pango, the former intelligence officer explained.
“Those few units vet them again through biometrics and then through other means,” he continued, adding, “These groups are known to be the Counterterrorism Center. They’re known to the the Ground Intelligence Center, the Defense Intelligence Agency. SOCOM. These are folks that have been on the SOCOM payroll for quite some time. So there’s considerable value to bringing them back onto our side versus leaving them in Afghanistan and being available to the various groups that are going to be struggling for power in Afghanistan.”
The State Department airlifted dozens of Afghan pilots who had been stuck in Tajikistan to Abu Dhabi after the New York Times published a story exposing the plight of the heroic pilots, who flew dozens of Afghan warplanes that had been purchased with US aid money to safety in Tajikistan after the fall of Kabul. They were sitting in prison-like conditions in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe awaiting help from the US Embassy.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby was asked about the Afghan pilots on Wednesday during a briefing.
“They arrived very early this morning (in Abu Dhabi.) My understanding is they are still there,” he said, adding, “The Operation Allies Welcome Task Force and the embassy is registering today to begin the processing for their eventual admission to the United States as parolees.”