Five young Middle Eastern men were apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol this week in an Arizona town situated about 30 miles from the Mexican border, law enforcement and other sources told Judicial Watch.
Border Patrol agents spotted the men crossing a ranch property in the vicinity of Amado, which is located about 35 miles south of Tucson and has a population of 275. Two of the Middle Eastern men were carrying stainless steel cylinders in backpacks, JW’s sources say, alarming Border Patrol officials enough to call the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for backup. A multitude of federal agents descended on the property and the two men carrying the cylinders were believed to be taken into custody by the FBI.
Only three of the men’s names were entered in the Border Patrol’s E3 reporting system, which is used by the agency to track apprehensions, detention hearings and removals of illegal immigrants. E3 also collects and transmits biographic and biometric data including fingerprints for identification and verification of individuals encountered at the border. The other two men were listed as “unknown subjects,” which is unheard of, according to a JW federal law enforcement source. “In all my years I’ve never seen that before,” a veteran federal law enforcement agent told JW.
The disturbing incident comes just days after six men—one from Afghanistan, five from Pakistan—were arrested in nearby Patagonia, a quaint ranch town that sits 20 miles north of the Mexican border city of Nogales. Federal authorities have confirmed the November 17 arrests and a local news outlet published a story that includes an official statement from the Border Patrol.
Special Agent Kurt Remus in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Phoenix headquarters told JW that the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces vetted and interviewed the six men and determined that there were “no obvious signs of terrorism” so they were returned to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
However, Special Agent Remus told JW that there is no record of this week’s incident in Amado and that he knew nothing about it. JW also put in a call to DHS headquarters, but received no response. In the last year JW has broken a number of stories involving serious terrorist threats on the southern border that were disputed on the record by various Obama administration officials. Among these is an April report—confirmed by high-level Mexican authorities—about ISIS operating camps near the U.S. border in areas known as Anapra and Puerto Palomas west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Last fall JW was the first to report on an Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) plot orchestrated from Ciudad Juárez to attack the U.S. with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). As a result of JW’s reporting Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army base in El Paso, increased security.
The threat was imminent enough to place agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies on alert. A few weeks later JW reported that four ISIS terrorists were arrested by federal authorities and the Texas Department of Public Safety in McAllen and Pharr.