When asked if any suspected members of the Islamic State have been apprehended while trying to cross the southern border, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety gave an alarming response.
The comment came during the annual Texas Border Coalition meeting in Loredo last week. While Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw did not specify if any suspected members of ISIS were caught on the border, he did confirm that individuals coming from countries "with a known terrorism presence" have been apprehended.
When asked about whether or not terror operatives have been apprehended, McCraw told the audience "yes," "individuals have come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence."
"We have individuals that we've needed to debrief in Pashto/Dari. Not a lot of Pashto and Dari speakers around," he continued. "But you can't think about the last attack; you have to think of the next attack and where our vulnerabilities are. So, we're concerned about that."
According to local NBC-affiliate KGNS, McCraw went on to explain that his department, in anticipation of a possible spillover of violence from Mexico, has worked proactively to develop a "contingency plan" that would beef up security presence at ports of entry.
This isn't the first time that the Texas DPS has warned about suspected terror activities on the border. In February, the department issued a report detailing its recent encounters with immigrants connected with known terrorist groups, including al-Shabab. To its credit, The Washington Post covered the report:
In a report to Texas elected officials, the state Department of Public Safety says border security agencies have arrested several Somali immigrants crossing the southern border who are known members of al-Shabab, the terrorist group that launched a deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, another Somalia-based group once funded by Osama bin Laden. Another undocumented immigrant arrested crossing the border was on multiple U.S. terrorism watch lists, the report says.
According to the report, one member of al-Shabab, apprehended in June 2014, told authorities he had been trained for an April 2014 suicide attack in Mogadishu. He said he escaped and reported the planned attack to African Union troops, who were able to stop the attack. The FBI believed another undocumented immigrant was an al-Shabab member who helped smuggle several potentially dangerous terrorists into the U.S.
Authorities also apprehended immigrants who said they were members of terrorist organizations in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Other reports of terrorist activity on the border have surface in the last few years. Judicial Watch warned in April that sources had informed them that ISIS had a camp operating just miles south of Texas, while locals have been sounding the alarm for years about cartels helping to bring over individuals from terror-plagued Middle Eastern countries.