The FBI is searching for more than a dozen Uzbek nationals who claimed asylum at the southern border after evidence emerged they traveled with the help of an ISIS-linked human trafficker, according to a report.
Officials are still working to ‘identify and assess’ all of the individuals in the group who entered the US, National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson told CNN in a statement.
No specific ISIS plot has been identified in connection with the group of foreign nationals, but that the bureau is investigating the possibility of any illegal activity or terrorism threats, according to the FBI.
The group of migrants from Uzbekistan requested asylum at the border earlier this year, were screened by the Department of Homeland Security and released into the US pending a court date on their asylum claims after no red flags were raised.
Alarm bells only went off later when the FBI later learned they had traveled with the help of a network that helps Uzbeks get to the US, and that the network included at least one person with ties to ISIS.
‘Whenever we have indicators that criminal actors—such as those involved in human smuggling—have connections to terrorism, we work diligently with our partners to investigate and understand how foreign terrorist organizations may attempt to exploit their capabilities so that we can best mitigate any risk to the American public,’ the FBI said in a statement.
‘While the FBI has not identified a specific terrorism plot associated with foreign nationals who recently entered the United States at the southern border, we always work with our field offices across the country, as well as our domestic and international partners, to identify any potential illegal activity or terrorism threats,’ the bureau said.
A federal law enforcement official said the FBI is working with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies to investigate anyone with suspected terrorism ties who may pose a threat to Americans, ‘regardless of how they arrive in the US.’