Isis in Mexico: Right-wing watchdog claims 'Islamic State' fighters have established a base 'eight miles from the US border'

But are such seemingly unfounded reports actually playing into Isis' hands?

Adam Withnall
Monday 20 April 2015 15:22
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American law enforcement agencies have been forced to deny reports that the Isis militant group has set up a base in northern Mexico just eight miles from the US border.

First reported by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, the claims were attributed to unnamed “Mexican authorities” and circulated by a host of right-wing media outlets.

Judicial Watch said Isis militants were working with the infamous Juarez Cartel in Anapra, Chihuahua, with a view to passing through “the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas”.

In a bid to investigate the reports, El Paso-based ABC-7 News contacted a number of federal agencies linked to border security and was told “the report is unverified, and it is unlikely that Isis is in Anapra or Juarez, Mexico”.

But beyond the fact that they are simply implausible, experts warned that such claims might prove “very harmful” as they were “exactly the kind of thing Isis wants people to report”.

Charlie Winter, a researcher with the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam, said there had been no indication from jihadist social media channels that Isis has ever “had their sights set on Mexico”.

He said: “Right now the main concern for Isis is consolidation and a war effort where its resources are dwindling and its financial strength is being tested.

“Overseas cells are very costly, and to divert resources to the other side of the world would be very high risk and not very pragmatic,” Mr Winter said, adding: “We know from the past that Isis acts pragmatically.”

Mr Winter said that while there had always been “scare stories” about the terror groups of the Middle East setting up bases closer to home for the US, it was “very important to think about how reporting on Isis reflects the group”.

“This is exactly the kind of coverage Isis wants, for others to project and exaggerate its menace for it.

Mr Winter said that after a series of strategic setbacks in Iraq, people were starting to see Isis less and less as “invincible”. He said: “I think it’s very important that we dismantle the menace of Isis rather than add to it.”

The Mexico government also confirmed that there were no operating cells throughout the border region, particularly at Ciudad Juarez in El Paso.

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