On the heels of a report that the Islamic State was seeking to exploit America’s porous southern border by sending its fighters into the U.S. though Mexico, Nicaraguan officials have announced that four suspected Islamic State terrorists have been arrested in the Central American nation.
Nicaragua’s National Police said that the four men were apprehended Tuesday morning after entering Nicaragua through an unauthorized crossing along the border with Costa Rica.
Two of the four were Egyptian and two were Iraqi, Nicaraguan officials said. All four were deported to Costa Rica Tuesday, Fox News reported.
According to Reuters, three of the men arrested were named in a Department of Homeland Security alert warning of possible Islamic State terrorists who had recently arrived in Central America. The three had entered Costa Rica from Panama on June 9. The fourth man arrived separately in Costa Rica on June 13.
Although the reports made no mention of the final destination of those arrested, a new report said the Islamic State is aware that the southern border is an access point to the U.S.
Writing in Homeland Security Today, Anne Speckhard, director of the Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, and Ardian Shajkovci, director of research at the center, noted that in May, “we learned that, indeed, there was at least one ISIS plot for their cadres to travel from Syria to penetrate the U.S. southern border by infiltrating migration routes.”
“Whatever one thinks of President Donald Trump’s heightened rhetoric about the U.S.- Mexico border and his many claims that it is vulnerable to terrorists, ISIS apparently also thought so, as knowledge of this ISIS plot came from the mouth of a now-repentant ISIS cadre,” they wrote.
The authors mentioned that Abu Henricki al Canadi told them in May that Islamic State supporters within the U.S. were part of the plot.
“They were going to move me to the Mexican side [of the US southern border] via Puerto Rico. This was mastermind[ed] by a guy in America. Where he is, I do not know,” al Canadi said, according to the article. “That information, the plan came from someone from the New Jersey state from America. I was going to take a boat [from Puerto Rico] into Mexico. He was going to smuggle me in.”
The article ended with a somber conclusion.
“This article serves to demonstrate that ISIS has discussed and operationalized ways in which their operatives could infiltrate our borders and cause harm to our citizens. We also know from our research that ISIS and similar terrorist groups are aware of our robust homeland security capabilities, which is why they have also shifted toward motivating and inspiring our citizens at home, primarily contacting them through the Internet, to act on their behalf. That said, it would be erroneous – and detrimental to our safety and security – to outright downplay the potential terrorist threats emanating from our borders,” Speckhard and Shajkovci wrote.
They also noted that thier article “is not published here as a warning bulletin for an imminent attack against our country, nor is it a fear-mongering attempt to suggest that a wave of ISIS terrorists are waiting to cross our southern border, but a reminder to diligently consider leads and sources that confirm terrorists’ intentions to exploit one of the weakest links in our national security: our borders.”
Donald Trump Jr. underscored the importance of the report on Twitter.
And the Democrats in Congress will still pretend there’s no crisis. What a disgrace.
ISIS plotted to send terrorists through US-Mexico border https://t.co/RDWTIgRazH
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 7, 2019
Speckhard later told the Center for Immigration Studies that the thought of the Islamic State exploiting the border’s chaotic conditions worried her.
“I felt this is a story that is important to get out, that it’s not just about Central Americans,” she said. “We were surprised by this and concerned as Americans. After reflecting on the case, that they [ISIS] would try this no longer seems incredible to me. Our ethic is to report the facts, not pander to either political party.”
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