Did US stop 10 IS fighters at the border or is it just fearmongering?

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) says that the US Border Patrol captured 'at least 10' Islamic State fighters, and that 'dozens more' are trying to infiltrate the US but not getting caught. US Homeland Security calls the claim 'categorically false.'

Eric Gay/AP/File
An US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agent peers out of the open door of a helicopter during a patrol flight near the Texas-Mexico border, on Sept. 5, 2014, near McAllen, Texas.

The culprit, Duncan Hunter (R) of California:

On Tuesday night, in an interview with Fox New Channel's Greta Van Susteren, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter took it a step further claiming the US Border Patrol has captured “at least 10 ISIS fighters” trying to enter the U.S. through the Mexico border.  Hunter told Van Susteren, “If they catch five or 10 of them you know there are going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the Border Patrol.”

This is, of course, nonsense and leads to one of the following options (which are not mutually exclusive): Hunter is lying, Hunter is deluded, or Hunter is gullible (if not a simpleton), and is falling for misinformation. None of these possibilities, by the way, inspires any confidence in Hunter.  (And yes, I am aware that this is far from the first time that Hunter has made comments of this quality).

This accusation is nothing more than a re-imagining of what has now become an old trope: that terrorists (it used to be Al Qaeda) will use the US-Mexican border to enter the US. Never mind, of course, that Al Qaeda’s one successful attack on US soil came via direct entry into the US (which would still be the easier way to go). Further, never mind that, despite the ongoing threat inflation in rhetoric regarding the Islamic State (IS), even at the highest levels of our government, including the president) notions of an ISIS direct attack on the US is the stuff of speculation.

Also, in case anyone has failed to notice: IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, seems a bit occupied in Iraq and Syria at the moment. While they have cast the US as their enemy (which is both true on the ground in Iraq and Syria as well as being the politically expedient thing for them to say) this does not mean that their reason for being is attacking the US.

The Department of Homeland Security has responded to Hunter’s assertions thusly (via CNN):

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson blasted Rep. Duncan Hunter’s suggestion that ISIS fighters have crossed the United States’ southern border into Texas.

“Let’s not unduly create fear and anxiety in the public by passing on speculation and rumor,” Johnson said Wednesday on CNN’s “Situation Room.”


Johnson said those claims aren’t supported by “credible, specific intelligence to that effect.” He said public officials should “be responsible in what we decide to share with the American public, so that the public is informed.”

His comments came after a Homeland Security spokeswoman called Hunter’s statement “categorically false.”

Hunter’s office responded:

Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said the congressman stands by his comments.

“A high level source informed the congressman – it was also said that DHS is actively discouraging any talk of IS on the border,” Kasper said.

“The congressman was conveying what he knows – and what he was told,” he said. “And as for DHS’ statement, it makes sense that the left hand of DHS doesn’t know what the right hand is doing – it’s been that way for a long time and we don’t expect that to change. No surprise there.”

OK, so Hunter has some such of special knowledge about IS infiltrating US soil, but instead of raising hell about it on the floor of the House, he casually makes inflammatory accusations on a cable talk show and then moves on. Having made this observation, I would return the reader to my options regarding Hunter as offered above.

Steven L. Taylor appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/.

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