No evidence for Trump claim on
'terrorists': government sources
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[December 12, 2018]
By Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump said on Tuesday that U.S. authorities had "caught 10 terrorists,"
citing it as a reason for why the United States should build a wall on
its Mexican border, but four government sources said there was no recent
evidence of terrorism suspects being caught along the border.
A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said: "We do not have
evidence of known or suspected foreign terrorist organizations trying to
infiltrate the southern U.S. border.”
Three national security officials agreed with that view, saying they
knew of no recent border-related arrests. The three officials also asked
not to be identified.
In a contentious White House meeting on Tuesday with House Democratic
leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Trump
demanded $5 billion in taxpayer funding for his wall, threatening a
federal shutdown if he did not get the money.
"People are pouring into our country, including terrorists," he said.
"We have terrorists. We caught 10 terrorists over the last very short
period of time. Ten. These are very serious people. Our border agents,
all of our law enforcement has been incredible what they've done. ... We
need the wall."
The president did not say when or where the "terrorists" were caught.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment
about his remarks.
One national security source said U.S. authorities had in recent years
captured one terrorism suspect trying to cross into the United States
over a land border.
Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said on June 12 at a
security forum that her agency identifies and stops terrorists worldwide
who would otherwise go undetected.
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President Donald Trump answers questions during an exclusive
interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White
House in Washington, U.S. December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
"In fact, on average, my department now blocks 10 known or suspected
terrorists a day from traveling to or attempting to enter the United
States," she said.
Ahead of Nov. 6 congressional elections, Trump and his allies said
the United States was under threat from a caravan of migrants moving
north mostly from Central America toward the U.S.-Mexico border. He
also said, without providing evidence, that "criminals and unknown
Middle Easterners" were mixed in with the caravan, a claim
immigration advocates disputed.
Days before the elections, Trump ordered more than 5,000 troops to
Democrats have proposed $1.3 billion in spending on general border
security as part of a package that must pass by Dec. 21 to avert a
partial shutdown of the federal government.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay; Additional
reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter
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