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Smuggler with ties to ISIS helped migrants cross into US from Mexico: Report
Photo by David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Smuggler with ties to ISIS helped migrants cross into US from Mexico: Report

The FBI is investigating a dozen Uzbek nationals who have been allowed into the U.S. after they previously sought asylum at the Mexican border. The investigation was sparked after U.S. intelligence officials discovered the migrants had apparently traveled with the help of a smuggler who reportedly has ties to ISIS.

CNN reported that the FBI has not yet identified an ISIS plot, but it is still trying to "identify and assess" all the individuals who gained entrance into the country, per national security spokesman Adrienne Watson. The authorities are also carefully tracking a group of migrants as possible criminal threats.

The situation was so pressing that a classified intelligence report made it into the morning briefing books of President Joe Biden's top Cabinet officials. The development seems to reveal how the U.S. border is vulnerable to terrorists who could sneak into the country by hiding within the groups of migrants entering the country to seek asylum.

Meetings among top national security and administration officials have taken place as a result of the situation at the border.

A group of migrants from Uzbekistan requested asylum in the U.S. earlier this year. While they were initially screened by the Department of Homeland Security, CNN reports that there "was no information in any of the intelligence community's databases that raised any red flags and the people were all released into the U.S. pending a court date."

The FBI only learned about the potential dangers later on, when they discovered a member of the human smuggling network helping Uzbek nationals travel to the U.S. had connections to ISIS.

The government agency also worked with Turkish authorities, who arrested the smuggler and others within his network at the behest of the U.S. The report stated the U.S. had acquired information from the smuggler that has been able to help in the investigation.

“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,” Watson said.

She continued: "We continually assess our security architecture to ensure that we are best poised to respond to threats to the homeland."

“Moreover, we will continue to constantly recalibrate our screening, vetting, and processing of those encountered entering the United States to ensure that we are taking into account the most up-to-date information at our disposal and with an unyielding commitment to protecting Americans and the homeland from the full range of potential threats.”

Watson also said the U.S. is working with foreign partners to help shut down travel routes used by the smuggling network.

U.S. officials mentioned that they do not believe the individual with connections to ISIS is actually part of the terror group, but that he may operate as a contractor who has sympathies with the organization.

“While the FBI has not identified a specific terrorism plot associated with foreign nationals who recently entered the United States at the southern border, we always work with our field offices across the country, as well as our domestic and international partners, to identify any potential illegal activity or terrorism threats,” the FBI said.

The FBI has not yet tracked down all the individuals the agency believes may have used the smuggling network to get into the U.S.

Republicans have consistently criticized Biden on the security at the border. This incident could present possible issues for Biden as the 2024 presidential election nears.

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