In yet another disturbing incident related to the porous US-Mexico border, the Daily Caller reports federal immigration authorities released a Pakistani man whose name appeared on the terror watchlist from custody last fall, albeit for only a short time. But he was released nonetheless.
On November 10, 2023, the Pakistani national was apprehended in Tecate, California, according to a memo reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Daily Caller, “Imagine how many cases like this one get through without us knowing.”
While the terror suspect was in custody on November 22, the Terrorism Screening Center (TSC) confirmed he was a positive match on the terror watchlist, the memo read. Despite that confirmation, the suspect was released from ICE custody in San Diego on Jan. 23. He was served with an “Order of Release on Recognizance.” He was subject to tracking technology through the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program at that time.
The suspect had been served with an expedited removal order on November 11, after which he claimed he was fearful of going back to Pakistan. On January 24, the ICE office in San Diego informed the agency’s Los Angeles office of his appearance on the terror watchlist, including the requirement of “mandatory detention.”
The suspect was told to report on his own to the ATD check-in office. He was arrested by ICE Los Angeles when he showed up for that check-in.
According to expedited removal rules, anyone placed in such a program is interviewed by asylum officers to determine if they genuinely have a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of [your] race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group, or political opinion of returned to [your] country, which would keep them from returning to their home country and permit access to the US asylum process, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)." If that claim is denied, the case can then, upon request of the illegal alien, be heard by an immigration judge.
According to a December report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an average of 4,500 pending cases are standing before each immigration judge.
The Daily Caller decided not to publish the internal agency memo or the Pakistani national's name to protect the identity of confidential. The memo didn’t disclose what terrorist organization the subject was linked to, they said.
“One of the biggest issues in preventing terrorists from entering the United States, in my opinion, is the backlog of records checks being run by the massive amounts of people flooding the border,” another DHS official told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “When it takes more than three months for an agency to determine if someone is/was a Known Suspected Terrorist, that is a huge problem!”
“Who knows how many after-the-fact realizations were made after releasing someone into the country? We may never know until they are encountered by law enforcement at a later date. Very well after it’s too late,” the second official said.
According to federal data, CBP captured 172 individuals on the terror watchlist in FY-2023. Between October and December, CBP recorded 50 encounters of subjects on the terrorist watchlist.
In FY-2022, CBP agents encountered 98 individuals on the terrorist watchlist, over six times the number from FY-2021, when only sixteen were caught, the data showed.
On January 20, ICE officers in Minnesota caught a member of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab after he was released by authorities shortly after he illegally crossed the southern border in San Ysidro, California, on March 13, 2023, according to an internal federal memo obtained by the Daily Caller. The Somali terror suspect was initially designated as a “mismatch” on the watchlist by the Terrorist Screening Center, however, was later determined to be a confirmed member of al-Shabaab.
Last week, Customs and Border Protection agents caught an individual who illegally crossed the southern border and admitted being previously tied to a Colombian terrorist organization, according to an internal CBP February 6 memo exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The outlet reached out to ICE for comment however, none was received.