‘Can you imagine what they had to do to get here? They infiltrated themselves in this caravan and tried to cross with the crowd…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) As the so-called migrant caravan of some 7,000 to 10,000 Central Americans continues its march toward the southern border in hopes of gaining U.S. asylum, disturbing reports of terrorists embedded within the caravan have begun surface.
President Trump sparked a firestorm of controversy on Monday when he tweeted about the potential national security threat:
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
Much of the news media immediately accused Trump of fearmongering, but the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-legal immigration research group, has begun compiling data points to back-up the terror claim.
And there’s plenty to choose from.
First, Univision reporter Francisco Santa Anna said on Friday that he saw people from Bangladesh traveling with the crowd when it crossed from Guatemala into Mexico.
“Can you imagine what they had to do to get here? They infiltrated themselves in this caravan and tried to cross with the crowd,” Santa Anna said in amazement.
Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens—who patrols the Laredo, Texas area of the border—told Fox News host Laura Ingraham this week that more than 650 Bangladeshis had been apprehended in his sector alone last year. The U.S. State Department currently lists Bangladesh as having ISIS-affiliated terror groups.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders went on the record at a recent press conference and further confirmed the terror threat, saying that suspected terrorists had reached the southern border from Mexico in high numbers during 2017.
“These kinds of details don’t ordinarily see light of day because they’ve always been regarded as too sensitive for public consumption, and are often classified,” said Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Bensman is a Texas-based senior national security fellow for CIS, and a former Homeland Security intelligence officer for nine years. He’s also an award-winning journalist.
“To my mind and the minds of many homeland security professionals who know and understand this issue, the president was obviously referencing a homeland security problem… known as ‘special interest aliens,’ or SIAs,” he said.
Special interest aliens are migrants that move along well-established Latin America smuggling routes from countries of the Middle East, and also from South Asia and North Africa.
The Department of Homeland Security has for years considered special interest aliens as posing a higher risk of committing terrorist acts because of the presence of Islamist terrorist organizations in some 30-plus Muslim-majority home countries.
Even President Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, warned about such dangers in 2016.
Earlier this month, Liberty Headlines reported that the U.S. State Department had begun tying illegal immigration to terrorism in its latest annual counter-terrorism report.
America’s southern border is “vulnerable to terrorist transit,” the 340-page document concluded.
“Many Latin American countries have porous borders, limited law enforcement capabilities, and established smuggling routes. These vulnerabilities offer opportunities to foreign terrorist groups,” the report said.
Bensman weighed in at the time, in way that now appears prescient.
“The report shows that smuggling routes through Latin America persist in providing the avenues for extremists, alongside benevolent migrants, to travel from nations where terrorist organizations plan and plot ways to harm the country,” Bensman said.
On Wednesday, he said that as a journalist and national counter-terrorism expert that he’s quite aware of the dangers at hand.
“If good for nothing else, the caravan at least made a few more Americans aware of this border threat,” he said.