El Paso Times Editorial Board
Border residents have long been accustomed to seeing our communities misrepresented for political gain. We’re living through it again with thinly sourced reports about Islamic State terrorists setting up camp in the Mexican village of Anapra.
The latest silliness comes from Judicial Watch, the same right-wing outfit that breathlessly — and falsely — announced last summer that the terrorists were in Juárez and an attack on Fort Bliss was “imminent.” In each case, their “reporting” is based on unnamed sources and can’t be replicated by anyone else.
Even the Texas Department of Public Safety, which has been used by politicians to hype supposed border threats, said there was “no credible evidence” to support the latest tale.
There’s no real accountability for false reports, so when a new round of drivel came out last week, it was widely promoted on social media.
Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado presented ISIS in Mexico as fact to his 979 Twitter followers. Radio talk show host Sean Hannity passed it along uncritically on his nationally syndicated show, and his El Paso radio home station, KTSM-690 AM, has repeatedly promoted the clip as if it were true, even after the story was widely debunked.
If Hannity, Buck and others really believed that a terrorist camp was set up on the U.S. border, they would be talking about nothing else, not settling for hit-and-run jobs. But truth isn’t particularly important when you have an agenda to promote.
We’ve written previously about the damage done to the border region by the false narrative of this area as a war zone.
But this version of border paranoia also perversely benefits the Islamic State, according to Charlie Winter, a researcher with the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam. Like others who closely study the Islamic State, he finds it extremely unlikely that they would set up shop in Mexico.