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A new 20-mile section of wall on the U.S. border with Mexico is being built in an area that Washington watchdog Judicial Watch identified years ago as a “hotbed of Islamic terrorism.”

The new structure, part of what was promised by President Trump during his 2016 campaign, is being installed between Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

“It’s an area where ISIS cells operate and Juárez Cartel smugglers help terrorists through the desert and across the border,” Judicial Watch noted in a report on the project.

The simple, easy-to-breach and “laughable” “vehicle barrier” that already was there is being replaced by “an 18 to 30-foot high bollard-style wall,” Judicial Watch said.

“The big question is, why did it take so long?” Judicial Watch wondered.

An open-borders organization is protesting the project, calling the wall “an affront to our communities.”

Judicial Watch argued the “reality is that the area is a major national security risk and a hub of human and drug smuggling.”

It cited the Santa Teresa Border Patrol sector chief’s statement in a local news report.

“This area of Santa Teresa operations is one of our busiest areas for illegal alien apprehension and has been for several years and a prime corridor for the smuggling of narcotics,” he said.

Last year, 25,193 illegal immigrants were apprehended and 34,189 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine were seized in Santa Teresa, according to government figures.

But the problem is even worse than illegal aliens entering and bringing drugs with them.

Judicial Watch reported in 2015 that ISIS cells were operating in the Santa Teresa region, just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, in an area known as Anapra, just west of Ciudad Juárez.

Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targeted the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming “for easy access to the United States,” the watchdog group said.

The information came from state and federal law enforcement officials on both sides of the border, including a Mexican Army field officer and a Mexican federal police inspector.

Judicial Watch said an ISIS camp was just a few miles from El Paso. The sources said policy had found documents in Arabic and Urdu as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss.

“Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents” during that investigation, the report said.

Judicial Watch pointed out that even a year earlier, it exposed the the vulnerabilities posed by lax security at that point along the U.S. southern border.

“An al-Qaida terrorist (Adnan G. El Shukrijumah) on the FBI’s most wanted list for years crossed back and forth into the United States from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas and piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield – about 25 miles from Santa Teresa – in Anthony, New Mexico,” the report said. “The same al-Qaida operative helped plan the 2009 bombing of talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago studios and the iconic Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower).”

WND reported last month Judicial Watch documented that hundreds of illegal aliens from ISIS recruiting grounds has been caught entering the United States this year.

Laredo, the report said, is “the favorite crossing point into the U.S. for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaida Indian Subcontinent.”

Citing figures from Customs and Border Protection, Judicial Watch said Laredo has the highest apprehension of Bangladeshi nationals.

“At last count, the figure has increased to 209 this year and growing … There’s no telling now many have slipped in,” the new report said.

“A growing number of illegal aliens from terrorist nations – including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – have tried to enter the U.S. through Mexico in the last few years. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported that dozens of them were held in a Texas Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing center after entering the U.S. illegally through Mexico,” Judicial Watch said.

“One of the detainees who is a national of Bangladesh said he arrived in El Paso after traveling from South America to Juarez, Mexico. At the time, the U.S. had just issued a terrorism alert warning that militants in Bangladesh may be targeting westerners. Years ago, Judicial Watch also reported that Mexican drug cartels are smuggling foreigners from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso. The foreigners are classified as Special Interest Aliens (SIA) by the U.S. government.”

Last year, the state of Texas issued a warning about ISIS camps just across the border. The Texas Public Safety Threat Overview at the time said the “the current terrorism threat to Texas is elevated.”

“We are especially concerned about the potential for terrorist infiltration across the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly as foreign terrorist fighters depart Syria and Iraq and enter global migration flows.”

And the concern is not only about those who sneak across the border.

“We are concerned about the challenges associated with the security vetting of Syrian war refugees or asylum seekers who are resettled in Texas – namely, that derogatory security information about individuals is inaccessible or nonexistent. We see a potential that these challenges may leave the state exposed to extremist actors who pose as authentic refugees, and who are determined to later commit violent acts,” the state explained.

A report at the Investigative Project on Terrorism noted an extra level of concern because “at least 13 aspiring terrorists have tried to cross into Mexico, or considered trying, since 2012.”

These are people who have been radicalized and want to travel overseas to join terrorist organizations but cannot travel by air because they are on the no-fly list.

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