LONDON - A senior Afghan military officer who was slated to carry the flag for his country at this week’s NATO summit in Wales, applied for asylum in the United Kingdom upon his arrival, sources said. Lt. Col. Enayatullah Barak, who traveled with Afghanistan’s delegation to the summit, split from the group he was traveling with after arriving at London’s Heathrow airport and turned to police for asylum, two sources at Afghanistan’s ministry of defense told NBC News. The news marred plans to cast the summit as a celebration marking the end of NATO's combat role in Afghanistan and the Afghan military's readiness to stand on its own.
Barak's disappearance was only was noticed after the other members of the delegation had passed through immigration, one of the sources said. The Afghan defense minister, Bismullah Khan Muhammadi, who is leading the delegation to the summit, was furious about the incident and has assigned a number of people to talk to Barak and convince him to return to Afghanistan, the source added. A spokesman for Britain's Home Office said he was aware of the media reports, but that officials would not comment on on-going asylum cases.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.