WASHINGTON (CNN) — Men affiliated with terrorist organizations have crossed the United States’ southern border and the Department of Homeland Security is splitting hairs by arguing otherwise, a House Republican is saying.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who made headlines this week by claiming that Border Patrol officers had told him at least 10 ISIS terror suspects had been captured crossing the border, backtracked Friday on his comments about their affiliation.
But he said he stands by his claim that terrorists have entered the country.
“I should have been more careful talking about ISIS, as opposed to terrorist Turks or terrorist Syrians,” Hunter told CNN after an event in his district.
Hunter said he still won’t reveal the source of his claim that at least 10 terror suspects have been caught, but that it came from “folks that are on the ground” and not Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson or any other appointees of President Barack Obama.
“The question is, is the administration parsing language when they say no actual ISIS fighters — meaning guys in black pajamas with black flags and AK-47s — have gotten across the border?” Hunter said.
“What you have are people from terrorist countries, state sponsors of terrorism, that have in fact gotten across the border,” he said.
His comments came after U.S. officials acknowledged that four Turkish nationals who had crossed into Texas were captured on September 10 — and that at least one had said he is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party, also known as the PKK.
The State Department has listed that group as a terrorist organization at the government of Turkey’s behest, though officials have been quick to point out that its members are now fighting against ISIS, rather than with the group.
“I don’t buy the idea that just because they’re the good terrorists, this is a good thing for the United States of America,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on Friday night.
He said he didn’t know whether Hunter’s claims about at least 10 ISIS-affiliated terror suspects crossing into the United States are accurate, but that “to suggest that a terrorist, a person with ISIS, would never do so would be naive.”