The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly said that the assertion that ISIS-affiliated terrorists were arrested while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is "categorically false and not supported by any credible intelligence or facts on the ground."
But the vice president of the largest union representing Border Patrol agents told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that DHS — which oversees the Border Patrol — is incorrect. And he said, the incident highlights the need for more funding for the Border Patrol,
"I haven't been able to outright confirm that it happened, but from what I have heard it sounds very credible," said Shawn Moran, the vice-president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents some 17,000 Border Patrol employees, "From what people have read to me, from what they say they have seen in documents, it seems pretty legit."
Moran admitted he had not seen the document himself. He added that he did not know the name of the official who prepared the report, or what agency did that official work for, but that his "instincts told" him the official was with the Border Patrol. He also declined to tell BuzzFeed News who had told him about the report in the first place.
When asked what would be the appropriate response to the alleged incident, Moran said that the Border Patrol needs more funding and more people to do its job and prevent ISIS from entering the U.S. again.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Homeland Security declined to discuss Moran's specific statements, but insisted that "DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border."
Moran's statements Thursday followed allegations from two Republican lawmakers who told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that suspected terrorists have infiltrated the U.S.–Mexico border and as many as 10 fighters have been captured.
The persistence of these rumors may stem from the arrests in September of four people with suspected ties to terrorism that were later found to be unfounded, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a speech Thursday.
"Four individuals were arrested, their supposed link to terrorism was thoroughly investigated and checked, and in the end amounted a claim by the individuals themselves that they were members of the Kurdish Worker's Party – an organization that is actually fighting against ISIL and defended Kurdish territory in Iraq," said Johnson. "Nevertheless, these individuals have been arrested for unlawful entry, they are detained, and they will be deported."
Reports that terrorists affiliated with Islamist groups have tried to enter the United States through the southern border have circulated around the web for months, even before ISIS became a household term.
In July, for example, members of a volunteer armed militia told Breitbart News they were concerned because they had found what they thought was a "Muslim Prayer Rug" in the Arizona desert.
Thus far, the threat embodied by that alleged rug has failed to materialize.
Nicolás Medina Mora is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Nicolás Medina Mora at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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