A fourth Iranian on the terror watch list was caught this weekend trying to enter the US via the southern border as the war between Israel and the Tehran-backed terror group Hamas continues.
The man in his forties is the fourth Iranian to be stopped by customs since the beginning of October.
It came after Hamas terrorists launched a murderous attack on Israel on October 7, killing men, women and children.
Iranians who enter the US illegally are classified as “special interest aliens” because the State Department considers Iran to be a hostile nation that poses a threat to national security.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week that Iran was “broadly complicit” in the recent unprecedented attacks on Israel because of Tehran’s military and political support for Hamas.
Also this month, two men from Lebanon, home to terrorist group Hezbollah, were arrested in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Iranians crossing the border illegally are considered ‘special interest aliens’ as the US State Department considers the Islamic Republic a hostile nation
U.S. Border Patrol agents help migrants stuck in the currents of the Rio Grande River onto an airboat
These latest concerns came after Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel last week. The National Security Council has called Iran “broadly complicit” in the violence.
The last Iranian to be taken into custody blended in with a group of Venezuelan migrants when he was spotted around 3am on Sunday. He was arrested without incident, a Fox News report said, just after crossing the border.
Hezbollah has pledged allegiance to Hamas amid the Israeli counter-offensive against the terror group.
The leader of Hamas last week called for a “global day of Jihad” on Friday – just days after the brutal attack on Israeli civilians in last Saturday’s terrorist attacks.
FBI Director Christopher Wray and other FBI officials said in a rare telephone briefing for reporters on Sunday that these concerns should not be ignored, claiming threats have increased in the US since Hamas invaded.
“The threat is very real and in fact the threat assessment continues to evolve,” Wray said.
“Here in the United States, we cannot and will not rule out the possibility that Hamas or other foreign terrorist organizations could exploit the conflict to call on their supporters to carry out attacks on our own soil.”
Iran’s alleged link to the attacks has come under fire from Republicans who allege the Middle Eastern country is financing Hamas terrorism in Israel — particularly through the Biden administration’s $6 billion payment to Iran for the release of five hostages held in Tehran last year. month.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, provide funding, training and weapons for the Sunni Islamist political and military organization Hamas.
The US and several other Western countries have designated both Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations.
Hamas is the de facto government of the Palestinian enclave in the Gaza Strip, but also has a presence in the West Bank.
Border agents are on high alert, keeping a close eye on whether those on the terror watch list – or those from hostile countries – are entering the country illegally in the wake of the attack on Israel.
There are no confirmed reports that Iran, or any other country, helped the Hamas terrorist plan his barbaric attack on Israel. The Biden administration has reiterated several times that it has found no evidence of Iranian ties to the attack on the Jewish state.
In September, the Department of Homeland Security said in a report that there are a growing number of “special interest aliens” attempting to enter the US, while warning that “terrorists and criminal actors could exploit the increased flow and increasingly complex security environment abuse to get in. the United States.’
“Individuals with connections to terrorism are interested in using established travel routes and permissive environments to facilitate entry into the United States,” the report said.
Fox News reporter Bill Melugin obtained the data from Border Patrol sources
A surge in arrivals has New York saying it is full, prompting migrants to go elsewhere. This file photo shows people waiting for beds outside the Roosevelt hotel
A special interest alien is an individual who may pose a national security threat to the United States.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, not all SIAs are terrorists, it’s just a designation.
Following news of the arrests, GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy said wrote on X: ‘This is unacceptable and downright dangerous. Protecting the homeland without apology is my highest national security priority.”
A source from Customs and Border Protection said this Breitbart that while most SIAs are not terrorists, the large number of border crossings makes it more difficult for officials to determine who is legitimately seeking asylum and who poses a threat.
‘It is understandable that people will flee from countries where terrorism exists, but with such large numbers of migrants from all over crossing every day, it is difficult to distinguish between those fleeing conditions and those who may be actively participating in these activities ‘, the source said.
In total, more than 70,000 migrants have been apprehended from countries of particular concern, according to leaked data from Custom and Border Protection.
They include 6,386 nationals from Afghanistan, where the Taliban took power in 2021 after a 20-year war, 659 people from Iran, which supports the Hamas terror group, and Syria, which has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
But the largest share comes from NATO ally Turkey and the West African country Mauritania, which is struggling with extremist violence.
The numbers were obtained by Fox News reporter Bill Melugin.
“Border Patrol sources tell me they are very concerned about who is entering the country because they have little to no ability to vet people from these special interest countries,” he said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
‘I’m told unless they have previously committed a crime in the US, or are on some sort of federal watch list, there is no way to know who they are because most of their home countries don’t share data/records with the US. so there is nothing that a name can be linked to when BP officers take fingerprints.”
“Special interest aliens” are defined based on their country of origin, and not based on intelligence allegations about specific individuals.
The term is used by federal agencies to refer to people who come from countries where conditions exist that promote or harbor terrorism, or who pose a potential threat to national security.
The result is a mystery to American authorities. Countries where violent terrorist movements take place are also those with populations desperate for safety.
Those arriving at the U.S. border included 13,624 people from Central Asia’s Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan and has provided foreign fighters to other militant groups.
Last week, President Joe Biden defended his administration’s decision to waive 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow construction of about 20 miles (32 kilometers) of additional border wall. migration from Mexico.
When asked if he thought such walls worked, he said bluntly, “No.”
What is a Special Interest Alien?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, a special interest alien is defined as:
“Generally speaking, an SIA is a non-U.S. individual who, based on an analysis of travel patterns, may pose a national security risk to the United States or its interests. Often such individuals or groups use travel patterns that are known or assessed to be potentially linked to terrorism. The DHS analysis includes an examination of travel patterns, points of origin, and/or travel segments associated with current assessments of domestic and international threat environments.”
In 2023, more than 61,000 Special Interest Aliens were apprehended by border officials.
The new construction was announced in June, but the money was allocated in 2019 before the Democratic president took office.
Biden said he tried to get lawmakers to redirect the money, but Congress refused, and the law requires the funding to be used as authorized and construction to be completed by 2023.
“The money was for the border wall,” Biden said. “I can’t stop that.”
The decision comes as the Biden administration struggles to control rising numbers of migrants at the border and spreading across the greater US. Democratic leaders in New York, Chicago and Washington are calling for federal help to handle the growing numbers of migrants in their cities.
Government officials announced Thursday they would resume deportations of migrants to Venezuela as part of their effort to slow arrivals.
Republicans, in turn, criticize the president as ineffective on border policy, with some suggesting they would not fund further efforts in Ukraine without a substantial increase in border security funding.