New: A Russian Just Convicted of Terrorism Illegally Crossed the SW Border

Biden DOJ press releases omitted that the Russian family man had illegally crossed the southern border and that the FBI regarded him as a high attack risk

By Todd Bensman on June 6, 2024
A Russian immigrant in Mexico speaks to the author using a translation app in 2018

A Russian immigrant in Mexico speaks to the author using a translation app in 2018.

As the California terrorism prosecution against Russian national Mura Kurashev progressed from 2021 indictment through his 2024 sentencing, no government press release or media report mentioned the one fact that would resonate with an American public anxious about the historic mass migration border crisis that raged outside the Sacramento courtroom.

It was that Kurashev, a 37-year-old father of three who hailed from the Russian Federation’s terrorism-addled Kabardino-Balkaria region next door to Chechnya, got into the United States by illegally crossing the Southwest Border from Mexico with his wife and young children, court records from the case reveal.

The Kurashev terrorism case — he wired money to Syria for guns and battle motorcycles but also posed a credible attack threat himself — marks rare confirmation of a national security fear often expressed as the worst mass migration crisis in U.S. history unfolded at the Southwest Border during the 2021-24 Sacramento prosecution.

The case also serves as a reminder that men arriving with wives and children, especially from troubled Islamist regions, cannot be axiomatically presumed benevolent and waived through with minimal counterterrorism vetting amid torrential human traffic, as has been the case for years under President Biden’s border policies.

An Islamic Extremist Crosses the SW Border and Swings into Action

Kurashev’s border crossing occurred on December 19, 2018, under former President Trump, during a surge of family units that at the time just discovered a legal loophole that forces the U.S. to quickly release them on asylum claims, an opening Trump later closed with his “Remain in Mexico” expulsion policy. Kurashev entered already an Islamic extremist who’d fled repeated interrogations by Russian counterterrorism intelligence officers, the court records show.

After Kurashev illegally crossed, the U.S. Border Patrol quickly released him into the interior. He was soon enough sending $13,000 he earned in California to the U.S.-designated al-Qaeda terrorist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, now renamed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is fighting the Russian-backed Syrian government. HTS used the money to field equipment, an AK-47, and at least one combat motorcycle.

In fact, his HTS terrorist friends overseas were so thankful they sent a battlefield video of themselves emblazoning his online nickname, “Abu Salim”, on the motorcycle’s gas tank and reminding the audience that “donating for the purchase of a motorcycle was tantamount to participating in the frontlines of the war in Syria”, court records show.

Kurashev pleaded guilty in January 2024. The 12-year prison sentence a judge dealt Kurashev in May underscores the fact that FBI investigators believed he wasn’t just interested in sending cash for guns and motorcycles, either.

“The FBI assesses that, had he not been arrested, he may have become an operational participant in terrorist activities,” the investigating FBI agent told the Sacramento court at one point. “Kurashev’s behavior firmly places him on the continuum for mobilizing to violence.”

He was a true believer, eagerly consuming bloody propaganda videos and regularly expressing his commitment to violent global jihad.

“War is an expensive pleasure,” Kurashev once told a fellow online jihadist, going on to say he wished to die for the cause. “I hope we become shahids [martyrs who die defending Islam] and recollect these days with a smile on.”

The National Security Threat Expands

At issue here is the national security threat of a southern border opened by Washington, D.C., policy fiats and little regard for vetting. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of unknowable immigrants, often with no identification, from Muslim-majority countries alongside peoples from 150-plus other nations, in numbers far too vast for existing counterterrorism vetting protocols to handle. As revealed in my 2021 book America’s Covert Border War, those U.S. government protocols for years required detention for any immigrant from Muslim-majority or adversarial nations so that they can undergo lengthy, eyeball-to-eyeball interviews and national security investigations.

Those detain-and-interview protocols were possible when the crossing numbers were low. But tens of thousands of Russians and immigrants from Muslim-majority nations have crossed the southern border under Biden, far too many for overwhelmed border agents to conduct individual interviews and national security investigations that might include calls to foreign intelligence agency counterparts, including even the often-collaborative Russians.

The U.S. intelligence community, FBI Director Chris Wray, and a variety of former homeland security officials have warned that these circumstances have exposed America to an unprecedented risk of Islamic terrorist infiltration and attack.

The administration’s own Department of Homeland Security “2024 Homeland Threat Assessment” warns that “terrorists may exploit the elevated flow and increasingly complex security environment to enter the United States” and that “individuals with potential terrorism connections continue to attempt to enter the Homeland illegally between ports of entry … via the southern border.”

All indications point to a high probability that Kurashev is not the first, nor last, Islamic extremist to cross the southern border amid this historic level of chaos. A few days after Kurashev’s April 29 sentencing, on May 3, a Jordanian border-crosser staged a truck-ramming attack at the Quantico Marine Corps base, as I raised awareness about in the New York Post.

Missed Public Clues

As for Kurashev, he apparently crossed the border in December 2018 fully radicalized and could have been found out, court records indicate. Records from the court files indicate that Border Patrol agents during the 2018-2019 family group influx probably missed his long history of trouble with Russian intelligence, which he claims interrogated him so often about a certain attack and local associations with suspected Islamic militants that he fled to Germany with his family in 2016 and claimed asylum.

Eventually in 2018, Germany sent him home, where he claimed Russian intelligence continued to sweat him about terrorism activities. So he headed to the American border next, where Border Patrol agents no doubt could have easily found online assessments showing terrorism problems in the Kabardino-Balkaria area and perhaps called Russian authorities for a check.

That December, agents were swamped with tens of thousands of family groups pouring over to take advantage of a just-discovered U.S. legal requirement for quick releases into the American interior. Were they too busy to flag Kurashev for heavy screening, detention, and deportation?

Less than a year later, it was the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism division that discovered him chatting online with the group’s Russian-speaking recruiter, fundraiser, and propagandist, a U.S.-designated terrorist named Faruk Fayzimatov, in Syria in October 2020. The NYPD let the FBI know what they’d found while surveilling Fayzimatov online.

Hiding the Border-Crossing Ball

One probable reason why none of the government press releases or news coverage of the Kurashev case mentioned how he entered the country is that confirmed border-crossing terrorists pose a major political problem for the Biden 2024 reelection campaign. National polls show Biden could lose re-election over his mass migration crisis, and that’s without confirmed terrorist crossings.

A border crisis with terrorist crossings? That politically damaging prospect may well explain why none of the hundreds of news reports predicated on those redacted government press releases ever mentioned the illegal border entry, either, when all reporters had to do was look at the public case filings.

Either reporters never looked, or else they did and chose to run interference for the Biden campaign. Either action is egregious because public knowledge that the worst national security fears about the border are actually happening now is the necessary first step to reducing this threat back to low or moderate pre-crisis levels.

But word is starting to get out. And the American public can likely expect more information to emerge about this terrorist border-crossing case because Kurashev has appealed his conviction and sentence to the 9th Circuit appeals court in California. Chances are better than good that the American public will learn more about this one from the court records there.