Watch this get locked too.hing
Using multiple databases, U.S. border agent finds woman on watch list
By LYNN BREZOSKY, ASSOCIATED PRESS
HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) - A Border Patrol agent's check of multiple databases showed a woman with a mutilated South African passport was on a government watch list, a Democratic congressman said Wednesday.
"He had that gut feeling that law enforcement officials have," Rep. Solomon Ortiz said, adding the FBI might not have been alerted to Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed, 48, if the agent hadn't been persistent.
A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has told The Associated Press investigators were trying to determine whether Ahmed had ties to terrorist groups.
Ahmed, 48, was arrested July 19, and charged three days later with illegal entry into the United States, falsifying information and mutilating and altering a passport.
A federal magistrate detained her without bond Tuesday - the same day the AP reported that crime rings within the South African government were selling illegal passports, and that some had been found in the hands of al-Qaida militants and other terrorists.
Kyle Welch, Ahmed's court-appointed attorney, said his client does not have a criminal record.
Border Patrol spokesman Eddie Flores said an agent checked Ahmed's name to see if it showed up in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System database, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement database, and the FBI database. He would not confirm if the databases contained Ahmed's name.
According to Flores, two agents became suspicious as Ahmed passed through the airport checkpoint. They found her passport was missing six pages, and that she had no visa to travel in the United States.
"Her shoes, they were dirty. There were thorns in the soles of her shoes. When you're down here along the Rio Grande and walking through brush you're going to catch thorns," Flores said.
Ahmed later told the agents she was smuggled across the Rio Grande, according to court papers.
Flores said she had more than $6,000, two suitcases with clothing and paperwork showing that she had traveled to London via the United Arab Emirates and then from London to Mexico City.
Michael Shelby, the U.S. attorney in Houston, said federal prosecutors were treating the case as a significant violation of immigration law, warning: "Anything beyond that is the speculation of individuals who may not have direct knowledge. People should not jump to conclusions."
FBI spokeswoman Rosalie Savage said the agency had no comment.