May 19, 2024

FBI Director Christopher Wray, along with other government officials, has once again raised the alarm over a sophisticated human smuggling network with direct ties to the Islamic State bringing illegal immigrants and asylum seekers over the southern border. This network, which was initially undetected, could pose a dire threat to national security.


During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday, Wray discussed an investigation into this network when information surfaced related to individuals from Uzbekistan and other nations who were aided by a smuggler who was tied to ISIS. The revelation was deemed critical enough to include in President Joe Biden’s top cabinet officials’ morning briefings.

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday warned of a “wide array” of dangerous threats coming from the U.S. border, including drug trafficking, violent gangs and smugglers with ties to ISIS.

Wray was asked by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the threats at the border, including the Tren de Aragua gang from Venezuela. Wray said he couldn’t speak to a specific gang, but said that there were dangerous individuals entering via the southern border.

“From an FBI perspective, we are seeing a wide array of very dangerous threats that emanate from the border. And that includes everything from drug trafficking — the FBI alone seized enough fentanyl in the last two years to kill 270 million people — that’s just on the fentanyl side,” he said.

“An awful lot of the violent crime in the United States is at the hands of gangs who are themselves involved in the distribution of that fentanyl,” he said.


When asked about enemies of the United States potentially using the porous border to smuggle dangerous individuals into the U.S., Wray indicated that it is possible that terrorists could have snuck in through this avenue.

Top Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, questioned Wray about the issue of the southern border being used by adversaries of the U.S., and terrorists in particular.

When pressed by Cornyn about whether terrorists may be among the over 1.8 million ‘gotaways’ who have evaded capture by border officials, Wray said it’s possible.

He cited former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saying ‘we don’t know what we don’t know.’

‘And I think there are many ways the national security ramifications of the issues at the border are better reflected in some ways more by what we don’t know about the people who snuck in, provided fake documents or in some other way, got in when there wasn’t sufficient information about the time they came in to connect the dots,’ said Wray.

‘It is almost more significant in our view,’ he continued ‘because those people, for the most part, are stopped detained and processed.’

This issue was highlighted in a report published in August 2023 which described how the FBI was investigating 15 individuals from Uzbekistan and other nations who were allowed to enter the country after seeking asylum at the southern border.


It was only later, when the FBI learned about the existence of a human smuggling network helping foreign nationals travel to the US – and that this network included at least one individual with connections to ISIS – that national security officials put the pieces together.

FBI agents around the country immediately rushed to try to locate the migrants and investigate their backgrounds. The bureau also worked with Turkish authorities, who arrested the smuggler and other members of his network at the behest of the US, and has subsequently obtained information from him to aid its investigation, US officials said. 

“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 said in a statement to CNN.

Wray’s comments come amid an ongoing border crisis that has persisted since President Joe Biden took office. His administration has struggled to come up with solutions to the problem. Much of this is due to infighting and disagreements over how to handle the constant influx of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

The murder of Laken Riley, who was killed by an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, brought the border crisis back to the forefront of American politics. The immigration debate is sure to intensify even further in the wake of these developments. The issue has become so pronounced that even Democrats have criticized the White House over its failure to do something about the problem. Meanwhile, the situation could be growing ever more perilous as the White House struggles with employing measures that could protect the American public from bad actors seeking to gain entry through the border.


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