In a rare public national security move coinciding with a collapsing southern border and the chaotic fall of Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department has offered a $2 million reward for information leading to the arrest of a fugitive Pakistani human smuggler and financial disruption of a network that transports Afghans, Pakistanis, and Middle Easterners through the currently packed Colombia-Panama “Darien Gap” to the American frontier.
CIS (h/t Nita) The State Department reward for the capture of Abid Ali Khan and disruption of his organization comes amid an Afghan refugee crisis and national media reporting that historically large numbers of international migrants from around the world — 95,000 in just the first nine months of the Biden administration — are on their way to the southern border through the Darien Gap jungle route Khan uses.
A typical Khan tactic is to disguise his Afghan and Pakistani clients as nationals of other countries and to use false identity documents as they are transported by air to Brazil and then overland through Central America and Mexico for an average of $20,000 per person, the American government alleges.
It should come as no surprise that American authorities would choose now to offer such a large and rare reward for this human smuggler of a category of higher national security risk travelers often called “special interest aliens”. These migrants are from countries with Islamic terrorist organizations, such as Afghanistan and next-door Pakistan, to which hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are now fleeing the Taliban.
The Center for Immigration Studies recently reported that Afghans are routinely smuggled through the gap to the southern border and, following the August fall of Kabul to the Taliban, predicted an increase in refugee flight to neighboring countries like Pakistan, where smugglers like Khan offer travel packages to the U.S. border.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Khan and three others in his network, one Afghan and two other Pakistanis, as a transnational criminal organization.
The State Department reward announcement does not mention terrorism, national security, the fall of Kabul, or the historic Darien Gap surge, although it does say organizations like Khan’s “pose high risk”.
Miami HSI Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury noted in one April government press release that the Khan network transported “people with nefarious motivations” into the United States. And while Salisbury did not elaborate