The United States says a smuggler with terrorist ties helped bring migrants from Uzbekistan into the country
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Tuesday that it has discovered and stopped a network trying to smuggle people from Uzbekistan into the United States and that at least one member of the network has ties to a foreign terrorist group.
“U.S. officials do not believe the Uzbek nationals who used the smuggling network had any terrorist ties or were planning a terrorist attack,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, in a statement.
The statement did not identify the foreign terrorist group, but a US official told the Associated Press it was the Islamic State. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The National Security Council said the United States worked with governments abroad to arrest key members of the smuggling network, including a person with ties to foreign terrorism. The statement did not specify how the person was linked to the terrorist group or which governments the United States worked with to catch smugglers.
The FBI, which is conducting the investigation, also stressed that it had not identified any specific terrorist threat associated with the immigrants.
“Whenever we have indications that criminal actors — such as those involved in people smuggling — have ties to terrorism, we work diligently with our partners to investigate and understand how foreign terrorist organizations might attempt to exploit their capabilities so that we can best mitigate any risk,” the FBI said. The Fed said in a statement: “To the American public.”
The National Security Council said the United States is working with foreign partners to shut down the travel routes used by the smuggling network and identify the people who used them to enter the country.
“Since this information has become available, those encountered at the border who fit the profile associated with the individuals facilitated by this network are placed under urgent removal, thoroughly screened against national security and public safety regulations, and generally held pending detention. removal”. Read the statement.
CNN, which was first to report the discovery of the smuggling network, said more than a dozen people from the Central Asian country who used the network were allowed into the United States.
Biden administration officials have frequently noted the role smuggling networks play in encouraging people from around the world to seek entry into the United States and facilitating their travel to the southern border, often describing the networks as ruthless and sophisticated operations that exploit the desperation of immigrants. Immigrants looking for a new life.
Decades ago, most of the immigrants trying to cross the border illegally were men from Mexico who were trying to find work in America. But in recent years, immigration officials have increasingly encountered immigrants from across the Southern Hemisphere and beyond. In addition to people from Uzbekistan, there are increasing numbers of people from Afghanistan, China and Pakistan Mauritania, for example.
News of the smuggling effort comes as Republicans accuse the administration of not doing enough to secure the border and endanger national security.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com