Three Yemenis on FBI terror list attempt to cross southern US border

Republicans are highlighting the arrests as part of their attacks on President Joe Biden’s immigration policies

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 16: (SECOND IN SERIES) Asylum seekers wade into the Rio Grande while crossing from Mexico into the United States on March 16, 2021 from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. An unidentified young woman and girl walked through the shallow but strong current into El Paso to present themselves U.S. Border Patrol agents. A surge of immigrant families and as many as 13,000 unaccompanied minors now in U.S. custody, according to CBS News, is causing a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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US border agents have detained four people, three Yemenis and one Serbian, whose names appear on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist screening database.

Axios reported on Tuesday that the four people had been arrested by Customs and Border Protection in separate incidents starting on October 1.

An agency representative confirmed the detention of the people but did not disclose their names.

"Our border security efforts are layered and include multiple levels of rigorous screening that allow us to detect and prevent people who pose national security or public safety risks from entering the United States," the representative told The National.

“[The agency] adjudicates individuals encountered at and between our ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases to determines if they pose a threat to national security, consistent with the law.”

Homeland Security secretary defends security of US after 'terror suspects' held on southern border

Homeland Security secretary defends security of US after 'terror suspects' held on southern border

“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 at our borders.”

The agency notified Congress of the arrests, which congressional Republicans have raised when attacking the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led a delegation of 12 Republicans to Texas on Monday and repeated claims that terrorists are trying to cross the southern border, noting that border patrol agents told him some of those who had been detained were on the “terrorist watch list”.

“We asked them what countries are people coming from,” said Mr McCarthy.

“Yemen, Iran, Sri Lanka, that’s what’s coming across. They even talked about Chinese as well.”

Mr McCarthy's comments came the day before Robert Aaron Long killed six Asian women and two others in multiple shootings in Georgia on Tuesday.

Despite Mr McCarthy’s comments, the agency did not confirm it had arrested any suspected terrorists beyond the three Yemenis and the one Serbian listed in the initial Axios report.

And while there has been a surge of Central American asylum seekers attempting to enter the US through the southern border in recent months, it is not known whether the four suspected terrorists in question sought to pass through a legal port.