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Officials: No evidence of Islamic State in Mexico

"I'm looking for bin Laden, or someone who may look like him," a resident of Ciudad Juárez said sarcastically.

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Panoramic view of skyline of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. File Photo by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock
Panoramic view of skyline of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. File Photo by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

CIUDAD JUáREZ, Mexico, April 20 (UPI) -- A Judicial Watch report claiming the Islamic State established a terror cell near Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is being denied by officials and condemned by residents.

The report by the conservative organization used unnamed "sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector."

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Northern Command and the Texas Department of Public Safety have all denied the report's claims.

"The Department of Public Safety and its intelligence community partners have no such credible information to corroborate or validate this today," Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Robert J. Bodisch wrote in an agency memo.

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The report stated that the Islamic State "established its base around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as 'Anapra' situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua."

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, contacted the Mexican government and U.S. authorities, reported seasoned border correspondent Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News. Multiple agencies from both governments stressed there was no intelligence revealing an IS presence on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Stories like these are good at scaring people and getting attention for those who spread them," O'Rourke wrote on his Facebook page. "But they are terrible for the country's image of the border, for El Paso's ability to recruit talent, and for our region's opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of being the largest bi-national community in the world."

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This is the latest claim by Judicial Watch stating an IS in Mexico and a connection with drug cartels.

"Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices," the group said in August, citing anonymous "high-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources."

That report was also denied by Mexican and U.S. government authorities.

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Residents of Ciudad Juárez, which borders the city of El Paso, Texas, have responded to the rejected report with humor and anger.

"I'm looking for bin Laden, or someone who may look like him, or a caravan with militants with guns, not the drug traffickers, but terrorists," Francisco Ramírez, a store owner, said sarcastically, adding, "This is insane."

Rosa Velia Sánchez, a mother of three, condemned the report's "scare tactics."

"You can't just say that without fundamentals, facts," she said. "Real people live here. We're all working hard to raise good families. We don't need this."

"They should not be saying things with no basis," she added.

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