The vast majority of these came from three countries in the Western Hemisphere – Cuba (2,809 apprehensions), Venezuela (2,712) and Colombia (1,987), according to newly-released DHS Office of Immigration Statistics data.
Cuba is one of four U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism, while Venezuela and Colombia are deemed terrorist safe havens.
The latest State Department annual report on terrorism cites “credible reports that Venezuela maintained an environment that allowed for fundraising activities that benefited known terrorist groups. Individuals linked to Hezbollah as well as [left-wing Colombian terrorist groups] FARC and ELN members were present in Venezuela.”
On Colombia, the report credits government efforts to combat terrorism, but says terrain and dense forest cover, low population densities and historically weak government presence in its border areas “have often allowed for potential safe havens for insurgent and terrorist groups.”
Nigeria accounts for the next biggest nationality of apprehended aliens among countries where terrorism poses a serious problem, with 492 apprehensions in FY2013, followed by Pakistan with 334.
Nigeria is home to the notorious Boko Haram terrorist group, while a myriad of Islamist terrorist groups are located in Pakistan, especially in the tribal areas, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) and Balochistan. Among them are groups that have declared the United States to be their enemy, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Laskhar e-Toiba and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Next among terror-linked countries are Saudi Arabia (264 apprehensions in FY2013), followed by Iran (257), Lebanon (230), Somalia (214), Iraq (169), Sudan (168), Syria (72), Afghanistan (70), Yemen (68) and Libya (16).
Iran has topped the State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring nations for more than a decade. Syria, home to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), the Al-Nusra Front and other jihadist groups is also a designated terror-sponsor, as is Sudan.
Other countries here are associated with some of the Islamic world’s most dangerous terrorist groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Somalia’s al-Shabaab, Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS in Iraq, the Taliban and allies in Afghanistan, and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.
The Office of Immigration Statistics’ annual report shows that the DHS apprehended approximately 662,000 aliens in FY2013, 64 percent of them Mexican citizens.
“Aliens who enter without inspection between ports of entry and are apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol of CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] may be, as appropriate, removed, permitted to return to their country, or issued a NTA [notice to appear] to commence proceedings before the immigration court.”