At least 50 with ties to ISIS illegally in U.S., whereabouts unknown



(The Center Square) – At least 50 known foreign nationals with ties to the Islamic terrorist group ISIS are living in the U.S. illegally and their whereabouts are unknown to federal agencies tasked with national security, according to several reports.

They were either released into the country by Border Patrol agents through a failed Department of Homeland Security vetting system the DHS Office of Inspector General has consistently warned about or they illegally entered and evaded capture, joining an estimated two million gotaways whose whereabouts are also unknown.

In the past three years, DHS has identified more than 400 foreign nationals from countries of foreign concern in Central Asia connected to an ISIS-affiliated human smuggling network, NBC News reported.

Of the 400, 150 have been arrested, 50 are known to law enforcement but remain at large, a Biden administration official told NBC News. Information about the other 200 remains unclear.

Their ties to the ISIS-linked smuggling group were discovered after, not before, they illegally entered the U.S., prompting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to attempt to find and arrest them.

Even though the illegal foreign nationals are connected to the ISIS smuggling group, “no information has emerged tying them to a threat to the U.S. homeland,” a Biden administration official told NBC News.

The majority illegally entered through the southwest border and “were released into the U.S. by Customs and Border Protection because they were not on the government’s terrorism watchlist, according to the three officials, and the agency did not have information raising concerns at the time,” NBC News reported.

The OIG’s report contradicts this argument, noting in a recent audit that DHS’ “ineffective practices and processes for resolving inconclusive matches with the Terrorist Watchlist led to multiple mistakes.” Agency deficiencies have allowed known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) to illegally enter the U.S. and “potentially threaten national security and public safety,” the OIG warned.

The OIG also found that CBP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services weren’t effectively screening asylum seekers – meaning they didn’t know who they were releasing into the country. The primary reason Border Patrol agents are processing and releasing illegal border crossers is because of a policy implemented by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directing them to do so if those entering claim asylum, instead of processing them for removal as inadmissibles.

The news broke after FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that the FBI was investigating the ISIS smuggling network and after a retired CIA director said all of the warning signs for a terrorist attack that occurred before 9/11 are visible today. He warned a terrorist attack could occur on U.S. soil before the end of the year, The Center Square reported.

ISIS, an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a spin-off of the terrorist organization al-Quaeda, led by 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. ISIS rose to power 10 years ago, taking over regions of Iraq and Syria. Since then, it’s orchestrated multiple terrorist attacks in the U.S. and western Europe and has taken credit for murdering civilians, taking hostages, recruiting naïve westerners through social media, committing genocide against the Yazidis and destroying ancient historical sites.

In response to the news, U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., said, “In President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas’ America, border security and immigration enforcement have become a punchline. There’s literally no one President Biden won’t turn away – including illegal aliens from problematic countries smuggled in by networks connected to ISIS.

“Every alarm is flashing red, and my committee has long warned that this administration’s open-borders agenda is bringing bad actors into the homeland in droves. DHS has now admitted yet again that this is true. This is unacceptable, preventable, and absolutely terrifying.”

Senate Republicans have also demanded answers, asking why illegal border crossers were released into the U.S. who weren’t properly vetted and were later discovered to have alleged terrorist connections. They also highlighted examples of “multiple recent releases of aliens on the terrorist watchlist into the United States,” including from Afghanistan, Jordan, Somalia, Uzbekistan and others.

So far this year, 316 KSTs have been apprehended illegally entering the country, the majority at the northern border, according to CBP data. In fiscal 2023, the greatest number were apprehended in U.S. history, 736, with the majority apprehended at the northern border.

While KST apprehensions at the northern border have been historically high, the number exponentially increased between ports of entry at the southwest border under the Biden administration. From fiscal 2021 through 2024 through June 20, nearly 400 were apprehended compared to 11 in fiscal 2017 through 2020 under the Trump administration.

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