Two Afghan men staying at the Fort McCoy U.S. Army base in Wisconsin after being evacuated from their country have been indicted by a federal grand jury on separate charges of forcibly engaging in a sexual act with children and assaulting spouse by strangling and suffocating her.
“Bahrullah Noori, 20, is charged with attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor using force against that person, and with three counts of engaging in a sexual act with a minor, with one count alleging the use of force,” the Department of Justice said in a statement released Wednesday.
“The indictment alleges that the victims had not attained the age of 16 years and were at least four years younger than the defendant,” the statement continued.
The other Afghan refugee, identified as 32-year-old Mohammad Haroon Imaad, “is charged with assaulting his spouse by strangling and suffocating her,” it added.
The victim told investigators that Imaad “threatened to send her back to Afghanistan where the Taliban could deal with her,” the criminal complaint says, according to news station WISN.
The two men, who were brought to the U.S. after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, were charged after investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort McCoy Police Department, are being held at Dane County Jail.
If convicted, Noori faces a minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in federal prison, and Imaad faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The State Department had earlier sought “urgent guidance” from other U.S. government agencies after child brides were brought to Fort McCoy and other Afghan girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi said they had been raped by older men they were forced to marry, The Associated Press reported at the time, citing officials and an internal document.
A situation report sent late last month to all U.S. embassies and consulates and to military command centers in Florida said some older Afghan men who were transported to Fort McCoy also claimed to have more than one wife.
Titled “Afghanistan Task Force SitRep No. 63,” the document stated: “Intake staff at Fort McCoy reported multiple cases of minor females who presented as ‘married’ to adult Afghan men, as well as polygamous families. Department of State has requested urgent guidance.”
According to a diplomatic cable sent by U.S. officials in the U.A.E to Washington, many girls at the Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi claimed they had been sexually assaulted by their “husbands.”
Among the thousands of Afghans who’ve arrived in the U.S., some 10,000 were flagged for additional security screening, and of those 100 were flagged for “possible ties to the Taliban or terror groups,” sources with knowledge of the evacuation process told NBC News.