Lankford Presses FBI Director for Answers on Special Interest Alien Tracking During Intelligence Hearing 

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) participated in an unclassified, public Senate Select Committeeon Intelligence hearing to discuss worldwide threats to the US. Lankford questioned US intelligence officials on the ongoing national security crisis at the southern border by sounding the alarm on the rise in Special Interest Aliens crossing the border and the inter-agency tracking challenge as they move freely throughout the country. Lankford also called for the reauthorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which expired in July 2023. 

The hearing witnesses included Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William J. Burns, Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research Brett M. Holmgren, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Jeffrey A. Kruse, , National Security Agency (NSA) Director Timothy D. Haugh, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher A. Wray, Department of State Intelligence and Research Assistant Secretary Brett Holmgren. 


LankfordI do want to continue some of the conversation about the border because while we’re dealing with worldwide threats, we’re seeing the worldwide threats coming towards us and some obvious vulnerabilities in this as has been mentioned. We talked about in the past, well in this fiscal year, 58 people on the terror watchlist that have been identified and picked up. There’s also a category called ‘Special Interest Aliens.’ Director Wray, I know you’re familiar with that as well. The Special Interest Aliens…many people may not know this definition I’m just going to read it, what this designation is. It says, ‘the Special Interest Alien’ is a non-US person who based on analysis of travel patterns potentially poses a national security risk to the United States or its interest. Often such individuals or groups are employing travel patterns known or evaluated to possibly have a nexus to terrorism.’

Do we have a listing of how many people have crossed the southern border that we have identified in this fiscal year that are Special Interest Aliens?

Wray: I don’t know the number, but we can follow up with you to see if that’s something we can provide. 

LankfordIt has been one of our challenges to try and identify that. While on the terror watchlist, we can get that number and know that it’s 58 exactly. When we ask the issue of Special Interest Aliens, we’re told often, ‘that is law enforcement sensitive.’ We know the number is in the thousands but have not been able to get a specific number nor a specific tracking on that. So that’d be helpful to be able to know. 

Because the next question is the obvious one, of those individuals, if they’re coming in, and I’m just going to give you a number if it’s in the thousands, is the FBI contacted when these individuals that are coming across our border released into the country because the vast majority of the SIAs we don’t have any criminal background information on them, we have a theory, so they’re released into the country currently. Is the FBI kept in contact from DHS and others who those individuals are or what kind of tracking and monitoring is on those individuals? 

WrayI know that we work closely with DHS, especially CBP, on the issue of Special Interest Aliens, including a whole lot of work on the other side of the border to try to prevent them from coming in the first place, and I know there are instances where we are contacted, but I’m not sure that as I sit here right now I can tell you that we’re contacted in every instance.