Afghan evacuee found guilty of molesting 3yo in US
An Afghan refugee has been convicted of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl at a US Marine Corps camp in Virginia following the United States’ evacuation from Afghanistan last August.
Mohammed Tariq, 24, was found guilty on Friday of sexually abusing the young girl while both of them were being housed at Virginia’s Camp Upshur on Marine Corps Base Quantico following his evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Tariq is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26 and could face life in prison.
US Marines spotted Tariq “inappropriately touching the victim over her clothing, on her chest, genitals, and buttocks” at the camp last year, the US Department of Justice said in a statement released on Monday.
While “the victim and Tariq were unrelated,” they had both “recently been evacuated from Afghanistan and brought to the United States,” the statement reads. The girl was being housed at the camp with her family.
Tariq reportedly told the authorities through an interpreter that the conduct was allowed in his culture, while “efforts to have his statements suppressed were rejected by the judge,” Stars and Stripes reported.
The US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Jessica D. Aber, praised “the resilience and courage of the victim and her family” in reporting the abuse.
The US military began evacuating its troops and allies, including native interpreters, from Afghanistan after the Taliban overran almost all of the country, eventually capturing Kabul on August 15. The hectic effort, which saw several Afghans plunging to their death as they clung to a US aircraft leaving Hamid Karzai International Airport, continued until the end of the month.
Over 73,000 Afghans were brought to the US in the initial phase of the evacuation, the White House said in November, noting that up to 22,000 additional refugees “may also be relocated and resettled to the United States” within the following year. All of the evacuees were originally flown to US military bases, where they were set to be released in communities across the country.