Ex-ICE Official Describes Release Of Suspected Terrorists As ‘Rare’

Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chief of Staff under President Joe Biden, Jason Houser, recently reacted to a report indicating that Border Patrol agents released an individual who was on the terror watchlist, noting that such an action “is very, very rare.” His comments were shared on NBC News.

NBC News Homeland Security Correspondent Julia Ainsley pointed out that the case “appears to be just one of at least three incidents in the past two years involving suspected terrorists being released by Customs and Border Protection, according to DHS inspector general and Congress.”

Ainsley aired a clip of Houser saying, “Any terrorist or terrorist-linked individual trying to come into this country is unacceptable.”

The NBC News correspondent noted that the outlet asked Houser how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could release individuals linked to terrorism into the U.S.
Ainsley then shared a clip of Houser indicating that such an incident is “very rare.”

“This is very, very rare. There’s a large capacity and capability for both Border Patrol, ICE, federal law enforcement, and the interagency to identify and vet these individuals as they come to the border,” Houser said.

It appears that the man released by Border Patrol who was on the terror watchlist was a suspected member of a “virulently anti-Western” terrorist organization who was previously apprehended crossing the southern border and eventually released after going before an immigration judge.

In March 2023, CBP agents arrested 48-year-old Mohammad Kharwin after he unlawfully entered the U.S.-Mexico border into California. The 48-year-old is an Afghan national and is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) terror watchlist.

Kharwin was released under ICE’s “Alternatives to Detention” program, which requires illegal immigrants to submit to GPS tracking or indicate their location on a smartphone app. The Afghan national’s release came even as CBP agents could not confirm whether he was on the terror watchlist.

About a year after his release, the FBI notified ICE that Kharwin was a suspected member of the designated foreign terrorist organization, Hezb-e-Islami. The terror group operates outside of Afghanistan and in parts of Pakistan. The National Counterterrorism Center describes the group as a “virulently anti-Western insurgent group.”