According to a top Republican Congressman, at least 10 Islamic State fighters have been arrested on the US side of the border, having crossed over from Mexico. Speaking to Fox News host Greta Van Susteren Tuesday, The California Representative and former Marine Duncan Hunter said “I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.” Hunter, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, claimed that the Border Patrol is his source for this information. Although Hunter told Van Susteren that, in order to verify his information, she simply had to “ask the border patrol,” he provided no specific source for the claim.
The organization Judicial Watch has confirmed that four members of ISIS have been apprehended in Texas within the past 36 hours. Federal and state law enforcement agents were involved in the arrests.
As thousands of illegal immigrants cross the border from Mexico into the United States, it has long been feared that foreign terrorists could easily infiltrate the country in the same manner. In early September, four ISIS fighters were allegedly apprehended in Texas. When questioned about that incident, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted that he was aware of reports “to that effect” but declined to give any specifics. Addressing Hunter’s claim about Islamic State fighters being arrested near the US border, Johnson said that public officials “need to be responsible in what we say in passing on speculation, rumor, to not unduly cause fear and anxiety in the American public.”
To date, there have been no incidents inside the US that could be attributed to ISIS. At the end of August, Fort Bliss, the US Army base near the border town of El Paso, beefed up security, with the Department of Defense citing “security assessments” for the change, but provided no further explanation.
Although US officials deny that Islamic State terrorists have entered the US, the organization has orchestrated isolated attacks in western European countries: In May 2013, a man who was later identified as having been with ISIS in Syria attacked the Jewish museum in Brussels, Belgium, killing four. He was identified by a French reporter, Nicolas Henin, who was kidnapped in Syria and held, for a time, in the same prison as American James Foley, who was later beheaded. Henin was released in April of this year and confirmed that Jewish Museum shooter, Medhi Nemmouche, was one of his captors.
On September tenth, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Francis Taylor revealed that intelligence sources had intercepted chatter on Social media sites that ISIS was exploring ways to get fighters into the US across the southern border. Taylor went on to say that the DHS was implementing a “comprehensive southern border security strategy that will include national security risks.”
Intelligence officials have speculated that Mexico’s drug cartels would not welcome the presence of Islamic State fighters in areas where they operate, including areas near the US border, for fear of drawing the attention of US authorities and, possibly, even the military.
Graham J Noble