DHS Scrambles to Find Possible Terrorists After Uncovering Human Smuggler Tied to ISIS
FAIR Take | September 2023
According to news reports, the FBI is investigating more than a dozen foreign nationals who entered the United States as asylum claimants after discovering their connection to a human smuggler linked to ISIS. This latest development comes as the southern border continues to face illegal immigration surges and Border Patrol agents have encountered 149 aliens on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist so far in fiscal year 2023.
Earlier this year, according to CNN, a group of Uzbekistan migrants illegally entered the U.S., requested asylum, and were screened by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before being released into the country. Now, the FBI has discovered that they had traveled to the United States border with the aid of a smuggler with ties to ISIS. Following the discovery, Turkish authorities arrested the smuggler and have provided information for the FBI’s investigation. Still, it is unclear exactly how long the Uzbek nationals have been in the U.S. or how the connection to ISIS was uncovered.
While federal authorities do not know of any specific terrorist plot, not all of those known to have traveled as part of the smuggling network have been tracked down, and more than 15 who have been located remain under investigation. Commenting on the situation, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, “There was no indication—and remains no indication—that any of the individuals facilitated by this network have a connection to a foreign terrorist organization or are engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in the United States.” For its part, DHS emphasized its policy of working closely with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to actively monitor all individuals entering the country.
The discovery of the smuggling network comes amid soaring illegal immigration at the border under the Biden Administration and a DHS Inspector General report in June finding that DHS had released a suspected terrorist into the country. The report revealed that, in April 2022, border agents apprehended and released an illegal alien who was on the Terrorist Watchlist. The report concluded that a series of mistakes were made leading to his release and that the suspected terrorist moved freely across the country for several weeks before being arrested.
Since President Biden took office, more than 7 million illegal aliens have been encountered at the southern border, along with more than 1.7 million “gotaways.” The number of illegal aliens on the Terrorist Watchlist encountered by Border Patrol has also spiked, going from just three in the last year of the Trump Administration to 16 in FY21 and 98 in FY22.
The House of Representatives has considered legislation that would end the border crisis and counter Biden Administration policies fueling it. In May, the House passed the Secure the Border Act by a vote of 219-213 but that bill has yet to receive a vote in the Senate. The Secure the Border Act would:
- Restart construction of the border wall;
- Add thousands more Border Patrol agents, provide the needed resources, and give them bonuses for working night and day to keep our nation safe;
- Reform our asylum process to deter frivolous claims and prohibit gang members and felons from benefitting from our asylum system; and
- End catch-and-release by strengthening our ability to detain, remove and return aliens to their home country or another safe country.