Three Afghan National Army soldiers who went missing from a U.S. military base on Cape Cod over the weekend were found trying to cross the Canadian border, a Massachusetts State Police official said on Monday.
The men — Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Capt. Noorullah Aminyar — had arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 11 and were at Joint Base Cape Cod in Sandwich for a training exercise, according to military officials, and went missing Saturday night after a trip to the Cape Cod Mall.
Massachusetts State Police Spokesman David Procopio said they presented themselves to the security checkpoint on the Rainbow Bridge Monday morning, where they were detained and interviewed by federal authorities.
State Police detectives helped federal authorities with the search, Procopio said, though detectives treated it as a missing persons case.
"[Massachusetts State Police] has no information that suggests the three men committed any crimes, and thus we would not have had any cause to detain them ourselves. [State Police] did not take a greater role in the search because there were no crimes committed, to our knowledge, and this was primarily a military matter," Procopio said.
The men were not armed and had no access to weapons during their training, officials said.
Gov. Deval Patrick said there was speculation among military officials that the men may have been trying to defect. It is unclear where they will be sent.
Though military officials said the men did not pose a threat to the public, many were skeptical that there was no cause for concern. The incident also prompted anti-Islamic comments on social media.