An ISIS defector told U.S.-based researchers that he was invited by ISIS to infiltrate U.S. borders in order to launch what he described as “financial attacks” against the United States. The researchers confirmed at least one ISIS plot to send operatives to travel from Syria to penetrate the U.S. southern border by infiltrating migration routes running from Central America through Mexico to the border.
The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) interviewed more than 160 ISIS defectors and returnees last month and were told by one defector, Abu Henricki — a Canadian with dual Trinidadian citizenship — that ISIS invited him and other Trinidadians to attempt to penetrate the U.S. borders to mount financial attacks on the United States.
Abu Henricki spoke with ICSVE researchers for about 1.5 hours on May 12, telling his story of being attracted to, traveling, joining, and serving in the Islamic State Caliphate (ISIS).
The incident Abu Henricki spoke of occurred in the end of 2016. “They, what they will have, what they wanted to do, basically, is they wanted to do financial attacks. Financial attacks to cripple the [U.S.] economy,” he told the interviewers “Apparently, they have the contacts or whatever papers they can get to a false ID, false passports [to send me out for this kind of attack],” he added. “They have their system of doing it. So that’s maybe the way that I could have gone out with other individuals. It wasn’t me alone. They were sending you to Puerto Rico and from Puerto Rico [to Mexico].”
A report detailing Abu Henricki’s statements written by two of ICSVE’s directors, Anne Speckhard, PhD and Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D., was published by Homeland Security Today on June 3.
The Speckhard-Shajkovci report observed:
The vulnerability of the U.S. borders to possible exploitation by terrorists — particularly in light of the heavy migration flow toward our southern border, either by those claiming asylum or relying on smugglers to cross into the country undetected – has been a border enforcement and policy concern since at least 9/11.
Their report went on to quote Abu Henricki, who told the interviewers:
“One reason while I was also put in [ISIS] prison in 2016, I was asked to leave [ISIS] to go to America because I’m from that area. Cause they wanted [and] planned to do something and I refused ... to do it. That is why also I’m put into [ISIS] prison and been tortured.”
When the interviewers asked him about the ISIS plot, he explained, “They were going to move me to the Mexican side [of the U.S. southern border] via Puerto Rico. This was mastermind[ed] by a guy in America. Where he is, I do not know. That information, the plan came from someone from the New Jersey state from America. I was going to take a boat [from Puerto Rico] into Mexico. He was going to smuggle me in,” Abu Henricki told them. “I don’t know where I’d end up.”
Stadtratte/iStock/Getty Images Plus