Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, asked subcommittee chair Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) on Feb. 16 to schedule a hearing to examine why a suspected Islamist terrorist had been released. The illegal migrant crossed the Rio Grande into Texas before being apprehended.
Biggs wrote that there is “no known case” where a foreign national appearing on a terror watch list was released on his recognizance in the past. He added that the circumstances “strongly suggest” that the Biden administration did not follow appropriate protocols.
Biggs was joined in his request by eight fellow Republican subcommittee members. A Biggs aide said that House Democrats ignored the request and appeared disinterested.
The suspected terrorist is Venezuelan Issam Bazzi, who was born in Lebanon. He was part of a large group of Venezuelans who surged to the southern border last November. Based on word of mouth, the US facilitated free entry into the country’s interior. Around 25,000 crossers from Venezuela turned themselves in at the border in December. Another 22,000 followed in January. Department of Homeland Security records indicate Bazzi and his wife and daughter flew to Monterrey, Mexico, in November and then swam across the Rio Grande to Brownsville, Texas.
His name and fingerprints matched his identity on an FBI terror watch list when taken into custody. One of the government files on Bazzi indicates that his record includes “substantive high side derogatory information.” Persons appearing on a watch list are considered “inadmissible” and not eligible for immigration benefits.
After being flagged on the terror list, Bazzi was sent to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. The FBI interviewed Bazzi, determined he was a flight risk and recommended that he be kept in ICE custody. Typically, a terror suspect would be deported to their home country if there are no pending charges against the person in the US.
Because of diplomatic issues between the US and Venezuela, persons being deported there are currently being sent to Colombia for further deportation through a governmental agreement.
However, ICE headquarters in Washington ordered that Bazzi be released on his recognizance to pursue an asylum claim in Michigan, where he has relatives.
The official justification for the release was shown to be Bazzi’s claim that he is at a heightened risk for COVID-19 infection because he marked a “chronic care condition overweight.” Bazzi was denied a tourist visa to visit his family in 2019 because of his status on the terror watch list.
If actual Congressional hearings are ever allowed to take place, it would be worthwhile to ask Biden’s Department of Homeland Security how many persons on a terror watch list have been passed through the collapsing border security system into unknown locations inside the nation.