A new internal memo from federal officials warns that members of terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) could be crossing into the US through the southern border.
The memo, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, was sent by the San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on October 20, as the war between Israel and Hamas continues and pro-Hamas protests spread around the globe.
"San Diego Field Office Intelligence Unit assesses that individuals inspired by, or reacting to the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border," the memo read.
"Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the US to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico," it added.
In the 2023 fiscal year, US Customs and Border Protection encountered 172 people on the terror watchlist attempting to cross the north and south borders illegally. At ports of entry at both borders, 564 encounters with those on the terror watchlist were recorded.
This is up from 2022 when 98 people were caught crossing illegally, and 380 were encountered at ports of entry.
The memo warns authorities to be on the lookout for indicators that include military-age males, military gear, solo travelers, and ties to the region.
The memo also includes "questions of interest" to be asked related to the individual’s familial or personal associations with "Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)" or other related groups.
This comes as CBP quietly released fiscal year 2023 results on Saturday, revealing the highest-ever recorded number of apprehensions at the southern border: 2.4 million.
This number tops the record previously seen in the 2022 fiscal year, at 2.3 million.
In a letter sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley demanded answers for the "uptick in potential terrorist-linked illegal aliens encountered at the southern border."
He told Mayorkas it was "imperative that [he] address this issue immediately to ensure the safety of American citizens, especially Jewish Americans, who are facing increased threats to their physical safety following the Hamas attack."
"Illegal aliens with potential ties to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah have no place in the United States," Hawley added, telling Mayorkas it was "critical that you abandon your radical open border policies."
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