By BETH BLANKLEY | THE CENTER SQUARE
An Iranian with terrorist ties was caught after illegally entering the U.S. near Niagara Falls, New York, as a record number of known, suspected terrorists (KSTs) were apprehended in the first three months of fiscal 2024 at the northern border.
After the Iranian was apprehended, agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations-Buffalo office removed him on Dec. 21.
The Iranian national first attempted to enter the U.S. on Oct. 10 by presenting himself to American immigration authorities at the Rainbow Bridge Pedestrian Walkway in Niagara Falls, New York. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers denied him entry and returned him to the Canada Border Services Agency the same day.
Two days later, on Oct. 12, he illegally entered the U.S. in another area attempting to bypass agents stationed at the Whirlpool Bridge Port of Entry in Niagara Falls, New York. He illegally entered outside of the port of entry, “without being admitted or paroled by a designated immigration official,” ICE said, but he was apprehended.
The Iranian national is also a permanent resident of Canada, identified as a national security priority who was wanted by Canadian authorities on assault charges, ICE said.
On Nov. 8, ICE ERO Buffalo agents served him with an expedited removal order and on Dec. 21, agents removed him to Canada.
“The strong law enforcement partnership between ERO Buffalo and Canadian law enforcement authorities is imperative to increasing national security and preventing dangerous individuals from fleeing justice,” ICE ERO Buffalo Field Office Director Thomas Brophy said. “The Canadian resident’s return to Canada to face charges is due to the dedicated officers on both sides of the border, working in tandem, to provide public safety for our communities.”
The announcement came as CBP Office of Field Operations agents apprehended a record 45 known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) at northern border ports of entry since Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal 2024, according to CBP data. Border Patrol agents apprehended one KST between ports of entry over the same time period. By contrast, 34 KSTs were apprehended at the southwest border over the same time period (30 between ports of entry and four at them).
So far, in the first three months of fiscal 2024, 80 KSTs have been apprehended at both borders, with the majority, 46, at the northern border.
The numbers are on track to exceed those apprehended in fiscal 2023 of 736. The majority, 487, or 66%, were apprehended at the northern border.
The total of 736 is the greatest number of KSTs apprehended in recorded U.S. history.
The Terrorist Screening Dataset is the federal database that contains sensitive information on terrorist identities, CBP said. It originated as a consolidated terrorist watchlist “to house information on known or suspected terrorists but evolved over the last decade to include additional individuals who represent a potential threat to the United States, including known affiliates of watchlisted individuals.”
By comparison, OFO and Border Patrol agents combined apprehended a total of 478 KSTs in fiscal 2022, 173 in fiscal 2021, 199 in fiscal 2020, 541 in fiscal 2019, 357 in fiscal 2018, and 353 in fiscal 2017.