Salvo 06.25.2024 7 minutes

Biden’s Escalating Border Crisis

President Biden Marks The 12th Anniversary Of DACA At The White House

The president's policies could spell disaster for the U.S.

U.S. authorities have virtually sealed any illuminating information about the recent FBI counterterrorism arrest of eight ISIS-tied Tajikistani nationals who crossed the southwest border a year ago. They were quickly freed amid the ongoing mass migration flood and claimed asylum. Federal law enforcement acted after a wiretap investigation intercepted communications that detected links to the Tajik-led ISIS-K terrorist group in Afghanistan and chatter about bombs and violent religious ideology. Though we are short of further details about the ISIS links and jihad talk, the initial arrests on immigration charges of border-crossing Tajik immigrants who were quickly freed at the border and got rolled up in a major counterterrorism dragnet constitute a momentous wake-up call that portends public policy consequences.

The multi-agency, FBI-led wiretap terrorism sting, just three months after four Tajik border infiltrators with the ISIS-K conducted a bloody, high body-count attack in Moscow that killed 145, comes too close to consummating an often-verbalized (and just as often ridiculed) fear of U.S.-Mexico border infiltration. That event and several others, including accidental terror suspect releases from the border and a thwarted box truck attack at Quantico Marine Corps Base in May by a Jordanian border-crosser, should demand a resolute U.S. homeland security enterprise pivot to mass border migration as a national security matter, a whole new public safety frontier.

But despite the public interest necessity of understanding and countering the terror travel tactic, mum has been the only official government word about the “Tajik 8” case since it came to light in early June through anonymously sourced leaks to reporters at the conservative-leaning New York Post and Fox News. Nor has the Tajik 8 case resonated much as a point of public debate, media punditry, or think tank analysis. CBSNBCCNN, and other outlets have confirmed the initial reports, which are not disputed by the government, but they seem to have little interest in the deeper implications of the story.

Government silence can perhaps be attributed to the ongoing nature of the investigation, with more arrests to come. But it’s also due, undoubtedly in no small part, to this border-related terrorism case having heavy negative political consequences for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Polls show the president’s reelection chances suffer greatly from the crisis he wrought when his administration effectively negated the relevance of the southern border on Day One in 2021.

Who else is probably among the 1,500 immigrants from Tajikistan known to have crossed the southern border between October 2020 and May 2024? The New York Post recently reported that only a couple dozen Tajiks crossed from Mexico in the last 14 years. At least another 900 more Tajiks, including one of the arrested Tajik 8 immigrants, were approved for humanitarian entry through U.S.-Mexico land ports as part of an ad hoc program that has granted hundreds of thousands of two-year renewable permission slips to immigrants from all over the world who apply on the CBP-One cell phone app, as I have reported, based on Center for Immigration Studies data.  

For some education as to what some of these 2,500 or so Tajik border-crossers might be all about, we can turn to another case when Tajikistani terrorists affiliated with ISIS and directed by its senior leaders infiltrated Germany to attack Americans in April 2020. Consider it a terrorism border infiltration case study in point.

Germany’s Border Infiltrating Tajik Terrorists

About 350 German anti-terrorism police, in coordinated raids, rounded up five Tajiks between the ages of 24 and 32 who had crossed illegally over the European Union’s external borders. They were caught in the advanced stages of planning an attack on two U.S. Air Force bases and NATO facilities in Germany. Much like the Tajiks recently arrested in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, members of the German team infiltrated across European land borders cloaked among millions of ordinary immigrants, starting in 2015. They all applied for asylum in Germany.

It was no doubt helpful to the German team that Europe’s mass migration crisis then, again like the current American one, created long-term asylum processing backlogs that provided ample time to prepare terrorist attacks.

The Tajiks in Germany used their time to plot and prepare as a terror cell, taking instruction all along from ranking ISIS members in Syria and Afghanistan. Funded in part from $40,000 that one of the Tajiks received to assassinate an Albanian man, the German group had ordered bomb components online and had already stockpiled fully automatic machine guns, ammunition, and the components for anti-personnel explosives. In 2022, German courts sentenced all five to prison on convictions related to the plot.

Troubled by Militant Islamic Extremism

Who are the Tajik 8? The German case and others before and after it provide some clues while the public waits for the government to release some facts.

Landlocked Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and China, is a 98 percent Muslim-majority nation of only nine million, deeply troubled for years by Islamic militancy. Hundreds of young Tajiks, for instance, were easily recruited to join ISIS fighting groups to create and later defend its “caliphate” after 2014.

The German group’s infiltration into Europe coincided with the Tajik government’s 2015 banishment of the barely tolerated Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which was tagged for its close association with Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda before 9/11, and for propagating attacks and fomenting violent jihad in more recent years. Designated a terrorist organization, IRPT activists and other local groups began scattering across the world, finding their way into migrant spillways to Europe and beyond.

After U.S.-led coalition forces militarily defeated ISIS in 2019, Tajiks began circulating through the international bloodstream with combat experience, ideological indoctrination, and resentment toward the United States. Tajik jihadists at home want to emigrate with their violent religious ideology to just about anywhere else, while the many hundreds who fought with ISIS do not want to return to the old country because of government hostility.

“The Tajik government continued to place heavy restrictions on groups it classifies as extremist,” as part of a 2021-2025 national strategy on countering terrorism, the U.S. State Department’s 2021 Country Report on Terrorism stated in its Tajikistan section. Indeed, violent jihadist ideology among Tajiks became so prevalent that the U.S. Secretary of State redesignated their country as a “country of particular concern” every year since 2016 for fomenting terrorism.

After the defeat of ISIS, Tajik fighters gravitated to its cousin, ISIS-K, which operates from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tajik jihadists have led the ISIS-K terror group, which conducts attacks regionally from South Asia and dreams of killing Americans in their homeland.

“An ISIS Terror Group Draws Half Its Recruits From Tiny Tajikistan,” reads the April 18 headline of a New York Times story about the attack on Moscow. Though that group had been regarded as lacking in the capability to reach the United States in years past, that was before the American mass migration border crisis made entry quick and easy for almost anyone from anywhere in the world.

ISIS-K, meanwhile, has “maintained ambitions to attack the West,” according to the U.S. State Department’s 2022 Country Report on Terrorism. Tajiks and the other nationalities get to the U.S. border by flying into South America or Central America on legal or fake visas, and then join the stream of migrants heading north. One popular route runs from Moscow to Cuba and then into Central American countries. Once Tajiks reach the U.S. border, they’re quickly processed into the interior, later to claim asylum for hearings scheduled many years in the future.

The Biden Administration has made entry even easier. At least one of the Tajik 8 gained his DHS-approved access over the border using the “CBP-One” mobile phone app program, one of 888 to do so under the program between May 2021 and December 2023, according to information exclusively obtained and reported by the Center for Immigration Studies through Freedom of Information Act litigation over the past year.

Biden’s DHS is letting others in on the app from the same dangerous neighborhood, such as Kyrgyzstan (4,224 through December), Uzbekistan (2,071), and Kazakhstan (585).

The news has been flush recently with reports of illegal alien rapists and child murderers from Latin America who were admitted into the country without vetting. The public has been rightly horrified by these criminals. But an open border invites all kinds of malefactors, and Americans should consider themselves warned that Central Asian terror cells are likely established in the homeland now and are planning to create mayhem undreamed of within our nation.  

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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