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ISIS-K could slip through US border and carry out Moscow-style attack, US official warns

EL PASO, TEXAS, USA - March 24, 2024: Texas National Guard troops âÂÂpush backâ migrants who have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico and made it through the fences and concertina wire installed by the state. Photo: Migrants rush to a gap in the concertina wire after Border Patrol agents open a gate. (Photo by James Breeden for NY Post) Texas National Guard âÂÂpush backâ migrants

ISIS-K terrorists could cross America’s porous borders, and carry out an attack like the Moscow concert hall mass shooting that killed 143 people, a US counter-terrorism official and experts warned.

The ultra-violent offshoot of the Islamic State terror group is growing “bolder,” and and its members may try to take advantage of the chaos at the US-Mexico border and seek out a “bigger” target, a current federal official told The Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“An attack on US soil is definitely a possibility,” said the source. “It would certainly send a message.”

With more than 256,000 migrant encounters recorded at the southern border in February — and an unknown number of ‘gotaways’ who slipped through unnoticed — the official said ISIS-K operatives “could slip through undetected”

The concern is only exacerbated by the sharp rise of encounters with suspects on the FBI’s terror watchlist at the border in recent years.

In 2021, Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) agents stopped 15 suspected terrorists at the southern border, with the following year seeing a dramatic spike of 98 suspects caught.

Last year, a total of 169 terror suspects were halted at the southern border, and since last October, 69 further suspects have been caught trying to sneak through the border.

Potentially hundreds of people from the countries where ISIS-K is actively recruiting are believed to be crossing the border each year.

“We are taking the threat of a domestic ISIS-K attack very seriously,” the counter-terrorism official said.

“They hate us, and everything we stand for. And they’re bold and they’re always looking for targets.”

While, most experts say ISIS-K is more likely to target Europe because of its proximity to the group’s base of operations, the US borders — both in the north and south — present a substantial terror risk.

“The open border is a huge concern for terrorists entering the US in light of the attacks in Moscow,” Morgan Lerette, a former US Army captain and Blackwater contractor, said in a statement to The Post.

“It’s only going to take a few of them to get armed and attack a large event [such as a] concert, baseball game, Times Square [in New York City] to bring terrorism to US soil,” he added.

“The open border is a huge concern for terrorists entering the US in light of the attacks in Moscow,” Morgan Lerette, a former US Army captain and Blackwater contractor, said in a statement to The Post.

Lerette also noted the ISIS-K members behind the Moscow attack were from Tajikistan, a Central Asian nation where the terror group has been gaining support.

The March 22 attack on the Crocus City Hall music venue in Moscow was the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe in 20 years. Four terrorists sprayed gunfire and lobbed Molotov cocktails into a sold-out concert.

ISIS-K has also claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Iran on Jan. 3 at a memorial marking the anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

The group was also behind an attack at the Kabul airport during the chaotic US evacuation of Afghanistan — during which 183 people, including 13 American service members were killed.

“The Russia attack was a success for them,” the US official said. “So they’re going to look for something bigger.”

ISIS-K — born in the Khorasan region, which includes parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan — is the “most operationally capable off-shoot of the Islamic State,” said Daniel Byman a senior fellow with the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Byman said ISIS-K has gathered followers across the Middle East and Central Asia and has declared a raft of major enemies — including the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Russia, Iran and the West. all of whom are unpopular supporters of violent Sunni Muslim jihadist movements.

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