The FBI is trying to locate more than 12 migrants from Uzbekistan that were released into the U.S. after receiving help from an ISIS-tied smuggler at the southern border, CNN reported Tuesday.
The migrants were permitted to enter the U.S. after seeking asylum earlier this year, according to CNN. Their smuggler is believed to be an independent contractor of the terrorist organization.
A classified intelligence report circulated among Biden administration cabinet officials in a morning briefing book, and urgent meetings were held between top national security and administration officials, according to CNN.
“Intelligence reporting alerted us to a human smuggling network working to facilitate the travel of Uzbek nationals to the United States. As with all identified human smuggling networks—which seek to prey on the vulnerable and evade nations’ legal systems—the U.S. government immediately took steps to successfully disrupt it,” National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“There was no indication—and remains no indication—that any of the individuals facilitated by this network have a connection to a foreign terrorist organization or are engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in the United States,” Watson told the DCNF.
The group of migrants didn’t set off any alarms when they were screened and released from federal custody earlier this year after crossing the southern border, according to CNN.
The FBI solicited the help of the Turkish government, which arrested the smuggler and other members of the smuggling network, according to CNN.
In recent years, federal authorities patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border have recorded an illegal immigration surge. In fiscal year 2022, Border Patrol recorded more than 2.2 million migrant encounters, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.
Additionally, Border Patrol has already recorded 1.6 million migrant encounters between October 2022 and July, according to CBP.
Border Patrol also saw a spike in arrests of individuals whose names appeared on the terror watchlist, jumping from 15 in fiscal year 2021, to 98 in fiscal year 2022 and 146 in the first 10 months of fiscal year 2023, according to federal data.
The overwhelming nature of the surge is the perfect opportunity for bad actors to enter the U.S., former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Anybody that doesn’t think that serious threats to this country are sneaking in right now is naïve,” Scott told the DCNF.
The FBI and DHS didn’t immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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