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Patrick Poole

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September 26, 2011 - 3:43 pm

Two Bangladeshis who were caught by Customs and Border Protection illegally crossing the border in June 2010 admitted under questioning that they were members of a designated terrorist organization that signed on to a fatwa by Osama bin Laden pledging to wage war against Americans.

But amazingly, after one of the men requested asylum, he was released on bond. And now one Homeland Security official tells me, concerning the released terror operative, “We don’t have the slightest idea where he is now.”

The two men, Muhammad Nazmul Hasan and Mirza Muhammad Saifuddin, were intercepted near Naco, Arizona, not long after they had crossed the border on June 25, 2010. During their interrogation, one of the men admitted that they were members of Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in February 2008. Earlier this month the group claimed responsibility for a bombing a courthouse in New Delhi. That attack killed 11 and wounded at least 45 others.

A 2006 State Department report described HuJI-B’s goals and connections to other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda:

The goal of HUJI-B is to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh. The group’s core membership consists primarily of Bangladeshi veterans of fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Bangladeshi Government arrested a senior HUJI-B leader, Mufti Abdul Hannan, in October. HUJI-B has connections to the Pakistani militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HUJI) and Harakat ul-Mujahedin (HUM), which advocate similar objectives in Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. The leaders of HUJI-B and HUM both signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Ladin that declared American civilians to be legitimate targets for attack.

Capturing two terrorist operatives illegally crossing the border would appear to be a big win for the Border Patrol. But in a stunning move, one of the men was released on bond after claiming asylum.

A Homeland Security official I met with last week in Washington, D.C., who was familiar with the case says that no government agency is tasked with monitoring those that are released pending asylum hearings, and that the terror operative’s whereabouts now are unknown.

That this guy was allowed out on bond is criminal. We don’t have the slightest idea where he is now. If he sets off a car bomb in Tucson or Phoenix, or shoots up a shopping mall or elementary school somewhere, there will be a lot of finger-pointing. But nobody seems that concerned about it now. And this is not the first time something like this has happened.

Back in March I reported here exclusively at PJMedia on a Department of Justice memo submitted in a court case of Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, who ran a human smuggling ring out of Brazil on behalf of the Somali Al-Shabaab terrorist organization. Dhakane was nearly granted asylum, but was eventually charged with lying about his terrorist associations based on his conversations with a jailhouse informant. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Dhakane’s case was representative of the surging wave of Somalis who have been intercepted crossing the border over the past two years. And now some officials are worried that the case of Hasan and Saifuddin might be the tip of the iceberg of extremist Bangladeshis who are leaving their country under pressure from authorities there cracking down on HuJI-B and setting up terror-support operations in the United States. And the preferred transit route into the U.S. appears to be illegally entering over the southern border — the route taken by the two Bangladeshi terror operatives.

Patrick Poole is a national security and terrorism correspondent for PJMedia. Follow me on Twitter.
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