FBI Trying To Find Migrants Connected To ISIS-Linked Smuggler

(TheConservativeTimes) – The FBI is searching for over a dozen Uzbek asylum seekers who were released into the United States after crossing the southern border earlier this year after intelligence officers discovered that their crossing was facilitated by a smuggler with ties to Islamic State, CNN reported.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told CNN that the FBI is seeking to “identify and assess” the Uzbeks who gained entry into the US using this smuggler.

However, authorities have identified no specific ISIS plot, nor is there any indication that the asylum-seekers are connected to any foreign terrorist organization, Watson said.

The Uzbek nationals requested asylum earlier this year and were screened by DHS. Screening includes taking fingerprints, facial scans, and other biometrics, as well as running the migrants through various law enforcement databases.

Migrants arriving from central Asia, including Uzbekistan, are subjected to additional screenings as well since the cost and distance involved in making the trip to the southern border raises security concerns.

Nothing during the screening process of the Uzbek nationals raised any red flags, and all were released into the United States pending court appearances. However, after the Uzbek nationals were allowed into the US interior, the FBI discovered a smuggling network helping Uzbeks into the country that involved at least one individual linked to ISIS.

The bureau began searching for the Uzbek migrants and also worked with authorities in Turkey to apprehend the smuggler along with other members of the smuggling network.

Watson told CNN that DHS has begun detaining, vetting, and “expediting the deportation” of the migrants whose entry was facilitated by the smuggling network.

While the ISIS-linked smuggler isn’t a member of the Islamic State, he is known to have personal sympathies with the terrorist organization.

Intel officials say it is unlikely that the smuggler was working on behalf of ISIS when helping the migrants into the US.

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