Fears about a terrorist using the U.S.-Mexican border as a gateway for an attack have been realized. Evidence shows that Somali Edmonton terrorist Abdulahi Hasan Sharif crossed the U.S.-Mexican border from Tijuana into San Diego at the San Ysidro border crossing on July 12, 2011.
Sharif allegedly hit an Edmonton police officer with a white Chevrolet Malibu on Sept. 30. He then got out of his car and stabbed the officer with a knife. A police manhunt ensued. The attacker then stole a U-Haul and drove it into four pedestrians before police apprehended him.
Investigators found an ISIS flag in his car, but the jihadist group has not claimed responsibility for his attacks.
Canadian press reports indicate that when he entered the U.S in 2011, Sharif lacked valid travel documents and almost immediately ended up in the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An immigration judge ordered Sharif deported to Somalia. But ICE released him because Somalia lacks a functioning government. He fell of the radar and U.S. authorities were unable to locate him.
He entered Canada in 2012 and obtained refugee status, Canadian officials said. It isn't clear why Canadian officials were unaware of Sharif's deportation from the United States. Privacy laws in both countries could keep that information secret, adding to widespread speculation that he received asylum in the U.S. Asylum applications are confidential, which further complicates the public's right to know.
Reports of Sharif's radicalism, including his open support for ISIS, first surfaced in 2015 after coworkers reported him to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Sharif would rant about how "polytheists" needed to die and how he hated Shiite Muslims, a coworker told the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).
The other question is how Sharif got to the U.S.-Mexican border – nearly 10,000 miles from Somalia.
Sharif likely worked with "long haul smugglers," national security expert Todd Bensman theorized in a recent post on his LinkedIn account, using prior court-established smuggling patterns as a baseline. Bensman wrote his Master's thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School on Somali smuggling patterns.
Many Somalis travel from Kenya to South Africa on the first leg of their trip to the U.S. From there they make their way to Brazil and then made his way northward through Latin America until they reach the U.S.-Mexican border.
Sharif's penetration of the U.S.-Mexican border isn't unique, Bensman wrote. He notes that others with ties to Al-Shabaab have also been identified but were apprehended before they could do anything.