"The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any evidence."--Marsha Catron, Homeland Security
By Miriam Raftery
October 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-El Cajon) is drawing flack on national news media for claiming on Fox News that ISIS (also known as ISIL) terrorists have been apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border. ( View video.) Multiple sources within Homeland Security and Mexico now insist that Hunter is wrong.
Hunter told Greta Van Sustern on Fox News that “I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.” He said he got the information from a confidential Border Patrol source.
East County Magazine asked the U.S. Border Patrol if it could verify Hunter’s claims. The agency referred us to Homeland Security, the agency in charge of national security in America. Homeland Security spokesperson Marsha Catron responded to our inquiry via e-mail tonight, stating, “The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground. DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”
The conservative site Judicial Watch posted a variation on Hunter's story, claiming that four ISIS operatives were taken into custody in the last 36 hours.
CNN reports that Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper confirmed that the Congressman stands by his statement and that a “high level source” told Hunter that DHS is actively discouraging talk about ISIS at the border. Kasper suggested that “the left hand of DHS doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…”
But CNN also spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this evening, who blasted Rep. Hunter over his remarks. “Let’s not unduly create fear and anxiety in the public by passing on speculation and rumor,” the nation’s top security officer told CNN.
Johnson added that he personally reviews intelligence reports daily from the southern border as well as overseas to “be on the lookout for something of that nature,” then added, “We have no specific intelligence that ISIL is planning to come into the U.S. through our southern border.”
MSNBC also received a denial from Homeland Security, in a story on Hunter’s statements titled “The border bombshell that’s completely wrong.”
Congressman O’Rourke from Texas represents El Paso, a border city, and serves on the Congressional Committee for Homeland Security. Tonight he told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that he, too, contacted Homeland Security and was assured that the apprehensions of ISIS or ISIL fighters at the border did not happen.
U-T San Diego reports that the Mexican embassy also called Hunter’s statements “categorically false.” The Mexican embassy’s statement said, “Mexican authorities have no indication whatsoever of the presence of groups or individuals of Islamic extremists in Mexico. Authorities from Mexico and the United States maintain permanent communication and continually exchange information, and there is nothing to even suggest what Congressman Duncan Hunter stated.”
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said his department “does not have any information to confirm the statement” made by Hunter.
Gabe Pacheco, spokesman for the Border Patrol Agents union, told UT San Diego that the San Diego sector had not received any information about any terrorist apprehensions in Texas
Hunter’s opponent, Navy veteran James Kimber, shared his views with East County Magazine. “It is completely inexcusable and absolutely reprehensible for Hunter to make comments like this,” he said, noting that there have been no news reports in any major media to confirm that ISIS terrorists have attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico. “I would think ISIS terrorists crossing over the Mexican border would rank up there with Ebola in the U.S., but Mr. Hunter seems to be the only one making this statement,” Kimber observed.”
Last month, Homeland Security issued statements to also debunk claims made by other conservative politicians who speculated that ISIL/ISIS was planning to enter the U.S. from Mexico. “There is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL (ISIS) to attempt to cross the southern border,” Homeland Security officials said in a written statement, the New York Times reported back on September 17th.
ISIL/ISIS terrorists, who know call themselves the Islamic State, invaded Iraq from Syria and have captured multiple cities. The ruthless group has killed and brutalized those who refuse to convert to Islam, forcing at least 1.5 million people to flee their homes.
Duncan D. Hunter represents the 50th Congressional District, which includes portions of San Diego and East County.