WASHINGTON, July 6 (UPI) -- U.S. military officials say fingerprinting terror suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq is yielding links to crimes committed in the United States.
By fingerprinting insurgents, suspected terrorists and ordinary people in the war zones, military officials have been surprised to find some of them had committed crimes in the United States, suggesting more Middle Eastern militants have lived the United States than previously thought, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
"I found the number stunning," Frances Fragos Townsend, a security consultant and former assistant to the president for homeland security, told the newspaper. "It suggested to me that this was going to give us far greater insight into the relationships between individuals fighting against U.S. forces in the theater and potential U.S. cells or support networks here in the United States."
The overseas fingerprinting effort was bolstered by a June 5 presidential directive giving the U.S. attorney general a deadline to plan an expansion of the use of biometrics aimed at terrorists. But it has also drawn criticism from civil libertarians who say U.S. citizens need to know what kind of criteria are being used to determine who is to be fingerprinted.