published : 2023-10-14

Officials Apprehend Two Lebanese Nationals at Southern Border Amid Terror Concerns

Agents Encounter Thousands of 'Special Interest Aliens'

A photo of Lebanese landscapes taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have detained two Lebanese nationals at the southern border in Texas on Thursday, raising concerns about potential terrorism threats. The men, in their early to mid-20s, were apprehended in Eagle Pass, Texas, and are currently undergoing extensive background vetting.

These individuals are classified as 'special interest aliens' by the U.S. government due to their nationality and the conditions in their home country that promote or protect terrorism. The apprehension of an Egyptian man in his 40s is also noteworthy. Additionally, 19 Iranians and 17 Syrians have been apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley Sector since Monday.

The recent increase in border apprehensions aligns with growing concerns about security after the terror attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel. Given that Lebanon shares a border with Israel and is home to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is funded by Iran and designated as a terror group by the State Department, the apprehension of these Lebanese nationals raises additional alarm.

A close-up shot of a border patrol agent conducting background vetting, taken with a Nikon D850.

The Department of Homeland Security's threat assessment, published last month, highlights the growing number of individuals on the watchlist attempting to enter the United States. The report warns of the potential exploitation of established travel routes and permissive environments by terrorists and criminal actors seeking access to the country.

According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, thousands of special interest aliens have been arrested over the last two years while attempting to cross the southern border illegally. Among these apprehensions, the numbers include nationals from Lebanon, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, and Syria.

Law enforcement agencies in Washington, D.C. have increased their presence in response to Hamas' call for a 'Day of Rage.' Similar protests have arisen in Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq, with massive crowds rallying in support of Palestinians.

A peaceful image of protestors in Lebanon showing support for Palestinians, taken with a Sony A7R III.

Border Patrol sources express extreme concerns regarding the influx of individuals from special interest countries, as vetting them thoroughly is challenging. Unless these individuals have committed a crime in the U.S. or are on a federal watchlist, their criminal history is difficult to verify as their countries do not share data with the U.S., leaving authorities with limited information to run background checks.

The U.S. faces historic numbers at the southern border, with over 260,000 migrant encounters in September alone. In the Del Rio Sector, where the recent apprehensions occurred, over 10,000 encounters were recorded in the last week, including over 1,400 individuals who evaded capture. Migrants from nearly 100 different countries have been apprehended this fiscal year.

This situation poses significant challenges for the U.S., highlighting the need for robust border security and effective vetting procedures to ensure national security and the safety of its citizens.