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52 suspected terrorists heading for US border apprehended in Panama, Congressman says

Cubans enter in Panama to travel to the US. (SENAFRONT/CORTESÍA/TNS)
October 19, 2021

The Panamanian government caught 52 people linked the terrorist group Al Qaeda, heading for the U.S. southern border, Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-TX) said in a Monday podcast appearance.

During an interview with Republican Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on the GOP’s Real America podcast, Gonzalez talked about the security risks associated with mass migration across the U.S. southern border. Gonzalez said Panamanian foreign minister Erica Mouynes had warned a caravan of 100,000 migrants heading for the southern border and told him the Panamanian government had already apprehended 52 people on the U.S. terrorist watch list out of the group.

“The thing that keeps me up at night the most is another 9/11 type of event,” said Gonzalez, a retired U.S. Navy cryptologist. “I just met last week, or actually this week with the foreign minister of Panama. . . She goes, ‘There’s over 100,000 coming through Panama on their way to the U.S. as we speak.”

“I ask her one specific question: ‘have you caught anybody on the terrorist watch list?'” Gonzalez continued. “She goes, ‘Funny you ask that, Tony, because in Panama we do biometrics and we have apprehended 52 people that are associated with Al Qaeda.'”

Gonzalez said he then asked if President Joe Biden’s administration is aware of the apprehensions. “She goes, ‘There’s no one home. I’m talking to you because the administration is absent.'”

After learning about the apprehensions, Gonzalez said he spoke to Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), did interviews with CNN and NPR and tried to connect Mouynes with other officials “to get as much voice behind this as possible.”

Concerns about terror threats crossing into the U.S. through the southern border are not new. In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents announced they had arrested two Yemeni nationals listed on the FBI’s terrorism watch list, trying to cross through the same border sector in a two-month period. A day after announcing the arrests, the CBP press release was deleted from its website, prompting questions from Republican lawmakers.

House Homeland GOP tweeted “@DHSgov & @CBP Why did you take down your previously public tweet & press release announcing that two people on the terror watch list were apprehended exploiting President Biden’s open border policies? Transparency in name alone is not transparency.”

Earlier this month, former U.S. Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott told Fox News, “We have terrorist threats we can’t get into in this type of a forum but they are real.”

Scott, who was fired by the Biden administration in June, added, the terrorist threats exist “and they want to come across that border.”

“Statistically, it always includes rapists, murderers, potential terrorists every single year if you look at CBP’s statistics publicly available. Those all exist in who we actually catch,” Scott continued. “To think there is not just as bad or worse people in those getting away would be naive.”