New Data Shows Record Number of Suspected Terrorists, Thousands of Special Interest Aliens Apprehended at U.S. Borders
FAIR Take | October 2023
Over the weekend, the Border Patrol published year-end data showing that a record 172 individuals on the terror watchlist had been apprehended illegally crossing into the U.S. in fiscal year 2023. Eighteen suspected terrorists were apprehended by the Border Patrol in September alone. And, when you add the number of suspected terrorists encountered at official ports of entry, the total for FY 2023 rises to 736.
This announcement comes only a week after officials at CBP leaked data showing that over 70,000 Special Interest Aliens have been encountered by U.S. border agents between October 2021 and October 2023. Special Interest Aliens (SIAs) are travelers to the U.S. who have engaged in suspicious travel patterns or other activity that suggests a possible threat to national security. The SIAs encountered at our borders included 6,386 Afghans, 3,153 Egyptians, 659 Iranians, and 538 Syrians.
Afghanistan was used for years by Osama Bin Laden as Al Qaeda’s headquarters. The 9/11 hijackers trained in Afghanistan before murdering 3,000 people. The U.S. and its allies would spend two decades fighting the murderous Taliban regime, who once again are in power in Kabul. With enormous amounts of American weapons seized following the Biden administration’s withdrawal in 2021, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups is now equipped with superpower weaponry. The Taliban have frequently paraded this weaponry at annual victory parades to prove their possession.
Syria was once home to ISIS. At one stage, it controlled territory equivalent in size to the United Kingdom, and attracted thousands of fighters. Syrian-based terrorists have already proven they can strike far overseas. ISIS carried out the Paris attacks in November 2015 that killed 130 people and wounded 450 more. Less than six months later, they carried out coordinated double suicide bombings in Belgium, attacking Brussels Airport and the Brussels Metro system. This attack killed over 30 people and wounded over 300. In September 2023, a people smuggler linked to ISIS was found to have helped migrants cross the U.S. border, showing ISIS is still probing (and sometimes breaching) our borders.
Iran is recognized as a major sponsor of terrorist groups across the world, from the Houthi militia of Yemen, to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Recent events have proven that Iranian-backed terror groups can and do strike without warning and kill huge numbers of people. Iran’s eyes are certainly on the Americas, as signaled by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s tour of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela in June 2023. In October 2023, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated his desire to see America “held responsible” for Iran’s alleged grievances. Just last week, four Iranians who were SIAs were captured by CBP at the border.
Sadly, the United States is, and likely will always be, a target for terrorists. However, they do not always have the advantage of open borders or a President who appears indifferent to the threat open borders pose to our national security.