Alleged ISIS member arrested after residing in U.S. for two years while seeking asylum

Immigration officials are raising concerns over delays in vetting asylum seekers' backgrounds.

Alleged ISIS member arrested after residing in U.S. for two years while seeking asylum
Business Insider
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Federal law enforcement officials have arrested Jovokhir Attoev, a 33-year-old man from Uzbekistan, who is an alleged member of the ISIS terrorist organization and had been living in the United States for the past two years while applying for asylum.

According to NBC News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently apprehended Attoev in Baltimore. He had crossed the border in Arizona in February 2022, where he was apprehended by Border Patrol and claimed to be seeking asylum.

Officials claim that at the time, they could not find any "derogatory information" on Attoev, leading to his release into the U.S. with a court date pending, the Daily Wire reports.

However, in May 2023, Uzbekistan issued an international notice stating that Attoev was wanted in his home country for alleged affiliation with ISIS. It was not until March 2024, nearly a year later, when the U.S. government was reviewing Attoev's asylum application, that officials discovered the notice from Uzbekistan and connected it with the man living in Maryland.

ICE arrested Attoev two weeks ago, and he now remains in jail awaiting trial in immigration court, where the government will argue that he should be detained to further investigate his alleged ties to terrorism.

Numerous federal law enforcement officials informed NBC News that the case highlights the potential dangers in the U.S. immigration and asylum system, as it can take authorities an extended period to follow up on individuals who have already crossed into the country, often illegally.

In a recent similar case, ICE apprehended Mohammad Kharwin, 48, who had illegally entered the U.S. through the southern border. Kharwin is allegedly a member of Hezb-e-Islami, a political and paramilitary organization designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. He roamed the country freely for a full year before being arrested by ICE.

The Islamic terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami, or "Party of Islam," is responsible for killing multiple American soldiers in Afghanistan from 2013 to 2015, according to U.S. officials. The Director of National Intelligence describes the group as a "virulently anti-Western insurgent group whose goal is to replace the Western-backed Afghan Government with an Islamic state rooted in sharia."

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