Contractor with links to rebels enters US facility
WASHINGTON (PAN): A contractor identified as supporting the Afghan insurgency had gained access to a US defence facility in the country, an American inspector general has informed the defense secretary, warning of the dangerous consequences of the development.
In a letter to Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that employees of Zurmat Material Testing Laboratory were given access to the Parwan Justice Centre complex last November.
The previous April, the Department of Commerce added Zurmat to its Entity List because of its involvement in networks that provide components of improvised explosive devices used against US and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
This incident highlights the potential consequences of the US Army failure to act on SIGAR’s prior request to debar Zurmat and other alleged supporters of the insurgency, the inspector general said in his letter, dated Nov 8.
Until action was taken in all 43 cases SIGAR had referred to the army for debarment, US troops could still be at risk, and government funds could be diverted to supporters of the insurgency, the SIGAR warned.
John F Sopko, wrote: “This security lapse seems to have been caused by gaps in how contractor information is shared by US government agencies supporting the reconstruction effort. Unless immediate action is taken to correct this matter, this contractor and other supporters of the insurgency could continue to gain access to US- and Coalition-controlled facilities in Afghanistan.”
The lapse in security highlighted the immediate need for a simple process to ensure that individuals and companies identified as supporters of the insurgency were prevented from accessing US and Coalition-controlled facilities, he added.
“To that end, I urge you to ensure that all relevant Section 841, Entity List, and similar determinations are distributed to officials who control access to US- and Coalition-controlled facilities,” Sopko concluded.
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