ISIS Member Released into the US, Lived Illegally in US for Two Years

( – Jovokhir Attoev, an Uzbek man, was recently arrested in Baltimore by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for having ties to ISIS, according to US officials.

Attoev was first caught by Border Patrol in February 2022 after crossing into Arizona. Since he raised no red flags during initial checks by Customs and Border Protection and ICE, Attoev was released on bond while his asylum application was being processed. However, in May 2023, Uzbekistan issued an international warrant for Attoev’s arrest after discovering he had links to ISIS. The US didn’t learn about this until March 2024 after they examined his asylum application.

After this discovery, ICE arrested Attoev in Baltimore on April 17. He is currently held in custody in Pennsylvania, awaiting an immigration court trial in New Jersey. In order to get more information about his supposed ties to ISIS, ICE will likely argue in favor of keeping him in custody.

This case has raised concerns among former Department of Homeland Security officials regarding the speed and frequency of following up on migrants who have already entered the country. Elizabeth Neumann, former assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention at DHS, stressed the importance of passing bipartisan border security legislation. This legislation seeks to allocate more resources for counterterrorism efforts.

Counterterrorism budgets have declined in recent years, especially after the US’ messy leave from Afghanistan in 2021. During a Senate hearing in February, director of National Intelligence Avril Haines stated that ISIS is still a significant concern.

There is currently no evidence of an established ISIS network within the U.S. Colin Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, emphasized the difficulty for militants who want to orchestrate attacks without such a network.

Law enforcement officials have yet to figure out for sure whether Attoev is associated with ISIS or has planned any attacks. DHS continues to gather information and interrogate him while he remains in custody. According to a DHS spokesperson, there is no immediate threat to public safety, and appropriate measures are being taken in line with national security protocols.

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