Posted on June 21, 2022

Border Patrol Catches Record Number on Terrorist List

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, June 16, 2022

Border Patrol agents nabbed 15 people at the southern border in May who were on the FBI’s terrorist screening database, showing the free-for-all along the U.S.-Mexico boundary is unabated.

The number of people on the terrorist watch list caught crossing the border is a record for any month, equaling all of 2021 and more than the Border Patrol found from 2017 to 2020 combined.

They were among nearly 240,000 total border jumpers Customs and Border Protection nabbed in May, marking the worst month on record for the Biden administration.

Beneath those numbers is something worse.

CBP had nearly 12,000 people in custody on any given day but ousted less than half of the illegal immigrants it encountered. The rest were either released outright at the border or transferred to other agencies, most of which would release them.

The most worrying categories of migrants — unaccompanied juveniles and people traveling as families — also showed significant increases.

About the only good news was on drug seizures. Seizures of drugs in all four major categories — cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine — were down.

The number of seizures, like the arrests of migrants, is considered a rough yardstick of the overall flow. So the drop in drug seizures likely means fewer drugs are getting through the border undetected.

The rise in the number of migrants, including suspected terrorists, means more are probably getting through.

“The big worry is with the chaos down there, when you have these kinds of people coming to the border, you have to assume that some of them got in,” said Todd Bensman, author of “America’s Covert Border War,” an analysis of terrorists attempting to exploit the U.S. immigration system.

Mr. Bensman, now a national security fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, used to work on border intelligence for the Texas Department of Public Safety and tracked the terrorism numbers. He said the Border Patrol used to average one or two every few months, and 15 was surprising.

“That’s a bad number,” he said. “It’s always a five-alarm fire if somebody comes over who’s on the TSDB.”


In late May, federal prosecutors revealed that they had busted an assassination plot against former President George W. Bush and arrested an Iraqi man who they said was planning to sneak an ISIS hit squad across the southern border to carry out the killing.

The man bragged in conversations recorded by investigators that he had already helped smuggle two Hezbollah agents into the U.S., at $50,000 per person {snip}

Mark Morgan, who headed CBP in the Trump administration, said when that case, the new terrorism numbers and the overall flow of people are taken together, “we have a legitimate national security vulnerability on our southern border.”

“I’m concerned that the next terrorist attacker is already in the United States because of this administration’s open border policies,” he said.


All told, the Border Patrol said, it caught a total of 50 people on the TSDB sneaking into the U.S. through the southern border since Oct. 1.

CBP’s office of field operations, which mans the ports of entry, said it has encountered 192 others, most of them along the U.S.-Canada boundary.


People coming through the ports of entry undergo an inspection, which means there’s at least some level of review. Given the total chaos at the southern border, there’s a risk that Border Patrol agents can’t vet every worrying person they arrest, Mr. Morgan said.

“The ones we’re catching and releasing, we’re releasing and we don’t know anything about them as well,” he said.