Captured illegal immigrant from Lebanon says he was member of Hezbollah hoping 'to make a bomb': CBP

While being checked by medical staff on March 11, Ebbadi was asked what he was doing in the U.S.
Migrants at southern border, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 22, 2022

U.S. Border Patrol agents captured an illegal immigrant from Lebanon who allegedly said he was a member of the terrorist organization Hezbollah and that he hoped to make a bomb and end up in New York, according to documents from the agency.

A U.S. Border Patrol memo published Sunday by the New York Post shows that Basel Bassel Ebbadi, 22, is in custody and being interrogated by the agency's Joint Terrorist Task Force after agents took him into custody on March 9 in the El Paso, Texas, border sector.

While being checked by medical staff on March 11, Ebbadi was asked what he was doing in the U.S.

"I'm going to try to make a bomb," he said, according to the memo. Ebbadi was then placed in isolation and the following day, he claimed to be a member of a foreign terrorist organization, which the Post confirmed to be Hezbollah, an Iran-backed terrorist group that controls much of southern Lebanon and has fired rockets on numerous occasions at Israel.

Ebbadi later said in an interview that he had been trying to leave Lebanon and Hezbollah because he "didn’t want to kill people," and he said, "Once you’re in, you can never get out," per internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents.

During a sworn interview after being arrested, Ebbadi said he trained for seven years with Hezbollah, and he guarded weapons locations as an active member for another four years, per the documents. This means he would have joined the group when he was as young as 11 years old.

He also said his training focused on "jihad" and killing non-Muslims, per the documents.

Ebbadi also said he used a fake name and birthday in multiple countries and he hoped to go to New York and then move around the United States. 

The arrest comes as Customs and Border Protection have reported record numbers of illegal immigrant encounters.

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