Federal officials are warning that members of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hezbollah could be crossing through the southern border, according to an internal Oct. 20 memo exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The San Diego Field Office Intelligence Division of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sent the memo warning that due to the war between Israel and Hamas, there could be encounters of terror-tied individuals who are seeking to travel to or from the Middle East via transit across the southern border. Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah, all of which are U.S.-designated terrorist organizations, have been committing attacks on Israel in a war that began with a surprise attack on hundreds of civilians on Oct. 7.
“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 reads.
“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,” the memo adds, before listing the patches of Hamas, PIJ and Hezbollah.
Amid record illegal immigration at the southern border, Border Patrol has recorded a major influx of encounters of individuals whose names appear on the terror watchlist.
Border patrol encounters with illegal aliens on the terror watchlist at the southern and northern borders hit 172 in fiscal year 2023, up from 98 in fiscal year 2022.
The latest warning of possible terrorist encounters says federal border authorities should look for indicators that include seeing military age males, military gear, lone travelers, and ties to the region, according to the memo.
The memo also lists several “questions of interest,” such as questions related to individuals’ personal or familial associations with “Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)” or other similar groups.
“CBP has seen no indication of Hamas-directed foreign fighters seeking to make entry into the United States,” an agency spokesperson told the DCNF.
“It is the policy of CBP to neither confirm nor speak to potentially improperly disclosed information or internal documents marked as law enforcement sensitive or for official use only. In general, CBP provides frontline personnel a wide range of context for situational awareness in order to ensure they remain vigilant in fulfillment of our homeland and border security missions. Situational awareness briefs are not threat assessments,” the spokesperson added.
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