Claim: ISIS members are operating a camp near El Paso and have been arrested trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Example: [Collected via email, October 2014]
Origins: While ISIS exploded across global
Van Susteren pressed Hunter after he stated that ISIS members had been caught attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, following a broader statement by the Congressman on concern for border security. Hunter replied by saying:
Hunter's claims seemed to fall directly in line with several made by the disreputable Judicial Watch site, a muckraking organization run by "political activist" Larry Klayman (who issued a press release in October 2014 announcing he was petitioning several federal agencies to deport President Obama, and who has been barred for life by multiple judges for his repetitive misuse of the court system). Since August 2014, Judicial Watch has been claiming that the U.S.-Mexico border is vulnerable to ISIS, stating in a "bulletin" on
In late August, you may recall, JW broke the story that Islamic terrorist organizations are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez where they plan to stage attacks against the U.S. In response to this threat, agents in the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense had all been placed on alert and told to work to counter the imminent threat. Two days after our initial report, Fort Bliss, the massive installation in El Paso, increased its security in response to this international terrorist threat.
But then the Obama spin machine cranked up. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security officially denied the report, telling the London Daily Mail, "we are aware of absolutely nothing credible to substantiate this claim." The DHS official duplicitously added, "In Mexico? I haven't seen that at all."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also responded, telling the newspaper that "the most detailed intelligence assessment that I can offer from here is that there is no evidence or indication right now that [the Islamic State group] is actively plotting to attack the United States homeland. That's true right now."
At Judicial Watch, we pulled no punches in standing by our story. We told the Daily Mail that JW's sources were "golden," and that the government's denial constituted a "non-denial denial." As I pointed out, the words "credible" and "specific" were rhetorical loopholes that one "could drive a truck bomb through," the paper reported.
The inclusion in the rumor of an "in the last
Judicial Watch similarly claimed in an April 2015 article that "ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," "in an area known as 'Anapra' situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua." Several federal law agencies involved with border security said the report was unverified and that it was unlikely ISIS is in Anapra or Juarez, and Ariel Moutsatsos-Morales, Mexico's minister for press and public affairs, also disclaimed the report:
The relevant authorities operating in the region have also confirmed the inexistence of these activities with their US counterparts, with whom they will continue to work closely and to exchange information at our common border."
None of them have found any evidence, credible or otherwise, that Isis is in Juárez.
Stories like these are good at scaring people and getting attention for those who spread them. But they are terrible for the country's image of the border, for El Paso's ability to recruit talent, and for our region's opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of being the largest bi-national community in the world.
As a member of the House Homeland Security committee in the 113th Congress, I asked the director of the FBI, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and the Secretary of Homeland Security if there was currently any terrorist threat on the Southern border. They answered that there was not, nor had there ever been, any terrorist, terrorist plot, or terrorist organization that was able to exploit our border with Mexico.
Beyond hurting our image nationally, these kinds of false stories could lead us to take our eye off real threats to the homeland. While we should always remain vigilant at our borders — and we currently spend $18 billion a year to do so — the greatest proven homeland threats have been at our airports and with homegrown terrorists radicalized over the internet. Not in El Paso, the country's safest city 4 years in a row.
Bradner, Eric. "Top Homeland Security Official: ISIS Hasn't Crossed Border Into U.S." CNN. 8 October 2014. FOXNews.com. "Congressman: 'At Least 10 ISIS Fighters' Caught Trying to Cross Into US." Fox News. 8 October 2014. KVIA-TV [El Paso]. "US Federal Law Agencies Say Report of ISIS in Mexico Is Unsubstantiated." 14 April 2015. "Imminent Terrorist Attack Warning Update: Ft. Bliss Increases Security." Judicial Watch. 31 August 2014. "Urgent Update on Terror Border Threat." Judicial Watch. 10 October 2014.