As border security concerns rise as a result of the Honduras migrant caravan, Guatemala recently revealed that it has been battling ISIS for several years within its own borders.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales delivered a speech at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America last week, during which he announced that Guatemala had captured nearly 100 suspects connected to ISIS
“We have arrested almost 100 people highly linked to terrorist groups, specifically ISIS,” Morales said. “We have not only detained them in our territory, they have also been deported to their countries of origin. All of you here have information to that effect.”
NEW: In a startling revelation, Guatemala’s president announced ~100 ISIS terrorists have been apprehended in the Central American nation. And why should Americans care about this? A caravan of Central American migrants is currently making its way north.https://t.co/D0bnW56oBb
— Judicial Watch 🔎 (@JudicialWatch) October 18, 2018
Top officials from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and the U.S. were also in attendance at the Washington, D.C. event.
Guatemala’s Secretary of Social Communication of the Presidency, Alfredo Brito, said the president revealed the data, which is classified info, “because it is a work in coordination with the different intelligence and security agencies,” according to Prensa Libre, one of Guatemala’s top news outlets.
Separately, Guatemala’s Secretary of Strategic Intelligence, Mario Duarte, reiterated Morales’ remarks of nearly 100 arrested ISIS subjects, details of which he also said is classified information.
“Several citizens of Syrian origin who were detained with false documents were detained, for which they were prosecuted and subjected to criminal proceedings. These individuals were deported in accordance to our laws,” Duarte said.
The U.S. has regarded Guatemala as a concern for national security due to the nation’s use as a traveling route for ISIS and related terror groups on their destination to the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement both have designated such people as a “special interest alien” which is a “foreign national originating from a country identified as having possible or established links to terrorism,” according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
Guatemala is also a well-known corridor for drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Last year, Guatemala’s National Civil Police (PNC) revealed that it had discovered a human trafficking ring involving the transport of people to the U.S. from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh, as Prensa Libre had reported at the time.
The agency began investigating the trafficking ring in 2015, and in 2016, they carried out at least six raids and captured 10 key figures of the international trafficking ring.
The effort appears to be part of a larger measure to reduce violent crimes in Guatemala.
“I can guarantee to you that with validated indicators, validated by American institutions, our security indicators, our indicators on the quality of our expenditure, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against terrorism, and the fight against all of the threats that endanger our region,” Morales said.