WASHINGTON — Since January, agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have arrested two men on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist as they attempted to cross the southern U.S. border, the agency said Monday.
Both men, aged 33 and 26, were from Yemen, apprehended in the El Centro, California, sector and are also on the no-fly list that bars certain individuals from boarding airplanes due to their potential threat to national security.
CBP said it does not release overall numbers of immigrants stopped at the southern border whose names were on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist or the country’s no-fly list, and did not provide the number encountered over the past year, but said the incidents are “very uncommon.”
“While encounters of known and suspected terrorists at our borders are very uncommon, they underscore the importance of the critical work our agents carry out on a daily basis to vet all individuals encountered at our borders,” an agency spokesperson said.
Data obtained by NBC News showed that in the first half of fiscal year 2018, a total of six migrants on the terrorism watchlist were apprehended trying to cross the southern border illegally. The number had been inflated by the Trump administration, which claimed 4,000 known or suspected terrorists attempted to cross the U.S.- Mexico border that year.
The Yemeni men were arrested Jan. 29 and March 30. Both have been detained; one in Immigration and Customs Enforcement Custody and the other in federal custody pending deportation. The agency did not provide the names of the men or the reason they are on the FBI’s Terrorism Watchlist.