The conservative watchdog website Judicial Watch is claiming that Islamic State terrorists have established a training camp located 8 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and plan on infiltrating the United States with the help of drug cartel smugglers.
Judicial Watch reported on Tuesday that unnamed sources within the Mexican Army and Mexican Federal Police have informed that they found evidence of ISIS militants establishing a training camp just outside of the Mexico border town of Ciudad Juarez in Anapra, which is about 8 miles from the U.S.'s southern border.
The report also claims that the militant group plans to use the border areas between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas, and Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico, to infiltrate the U.S. It adds that the militants will be aided by "coyotes" who work for the Juarez Cartel and spotters who will be located in the East Potrillo Mountains in New Mexico.
"These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing," Judicial Watch explains.
Considering the facts that the southern border is vulnerable to infiltration and ISIS has warned that a second 9/11 is coming and America's geographical location won't save it from jihad, a number of conservative news sources, including Fox News, have reported on Judicial Watch's claims.
However, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, counterterrorism analyst at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Christian Post on Thursday that he questions the validity of the Judicial Watch report, as some of their previous claims about ISIS near the border have been proven to not be true.
"It's entirely based on anonymous sources, so it is impossible to assess the credibility of their sources, but [Judicial Watch] has a pretty poor record with respect to claims of ISIS' infiltration into the United States previously," Gartenstein said. "Judicial Watch, for example, [previously] pushed the idea that you had a large number of ISIS fighters who were arrested at the border trying to enter the country. We know for a fact, at this point, that is not true."
Gartenstein-Ross added that he has not heard of any actual evidence that ISIS has established a presence near Ciudad Juarez and added that it wouldn't make sense for the cartel and "coyotes" to want to help ISIS infiltrate the U.S.
"This training camp in Juarez, I have seen no evidence of it," Gartenstein-Ross asserted. "In general, the incentives of the cartels and other organizations, like the coyotes, is in the opposite direction of trying to align with ISIS. These guys are profit centered. They are bad guys, but they are bad guys who are out to make a profit. There is nothing that can jeopardize their profits more than smuggling a bunch of ISIS fighters into the United States. That would be extraordinarily disruptive to their entire business model."
Although Gartenstein-Ross recognized that there is potential for extremists to take advantage of the porous southern border, that doesn't mean that ISIS has set up a training camp in preparation to do so.
"There is the potential. … We talk constantly about how the southern border is porous and the bad guys know that as well," Gartenstein-Ross added. "Although there is potential, that is different than saying that there is actually an ISIS training camp in Juarez."
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas., a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement through his Facebook on Wednesday saying that he personally reached out of the Mexican government, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Northern Command and was told that none of them have found evidence of an ISIS camp near Juarez.
"I asked the director of the FBI, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and the Secretary of Homeland Security if there was currently any terrorist threat on the Southern border," O'Rourke wrote. "They answered that there was not, nor had there ever been, any terrorist, terrorist plot, or terrorist organization that was able to exploit our border with Mexico."