(PatriotWise.com) — According to the National Security Council, the FBI is trying to track down more than a dozen asylum seekers from Uzbekistan who were released into the United States after crossing the border with Mexico earlier this year after intelligence officials discovered that a smuggler with links to ISIS helped facilitate their crossing, CNN reported.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told CNN that the FBI is seeking to “identify and assess” the Uzbek migrants who entered the US using this smuggler.
So far, authorities have not identified any specific ISIS plot, and there is no indication that the Uzbek migrants are connected to a foreign terrorist organization, Watson said.
The Uzbek nationals arrived at the southern border earlier this year, where they underwent screening by Homeland Security. Screening includes biometrics like facial scans and fingerprints. The migrants are then run through various law enforcement databases.
According to CNN, migrants from central Asia, including Uzbekistan, undergo additional screenings since the cost and distance involved in making the trip to the southern border raise security questions.
The screening process found no red flags on the Uzbek nationals, and Homeland Security released them into the US interior pending appearances in court.
However, after the Uzbek nationals were released, the FBI discovered that a smuggling network helping Uzbeks into the country included at least one individual linked to ISIS.
While the ISIS-linked smuggler isn’t a member of the Islamic State, he is known to have personal sympathies with the terrorist organization.
Intelligence officials say it is unlikely that the smuggler was working on behalf of ISIS when helping the migrants into the US.
The bureau immediately began searching for the Uzbeks. Meanwhile, the FBI worked with Turkish officials to apprehend the smuggler in question, along with others from the smuggling network.
Watson told CNN that DHS has started detaining, vetting, and “expediting the deportation” of the Uzbeks whose entry was facilitated by the smuggling network.
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