AUSTIN, TX - AUGUST 19: Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press before turning himself in to authorities at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on August 19, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last Friday on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)2014 Getty Images
The embattled Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t backed down from making headlines this week despite his indictment on abuse of power allegations.
In his latest comment, Perry said ISIS terrorists could already be operating in the country and that they entered through the porous Mexican border.
While Perry admitted that there is “no clear evidence” that anything of the sort had already happened, he said that the ongoing border crisis should be looked at as a matter of national security.
“I think there is the obvious, great concern that — because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across — that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be,” Perry said during a conference on border security and immigration at the Heritage Foundation, according to the New York Times.
He said there is a great concern that terrorists were exploiting the border crisis and using it to their advantage.
On Thursday, documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch made the same assertion on “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” He said during work along the border, he has found Quran’s and prayer rugs – evidence that terrorist organizations are cross the border.
He claims these groups are collaborating with drug cartels to easily access the border.
“If you were going to penetrate the U.S. where would you go?” Lynch asked. “You are going to work with the drug cartels. Do not kid yourself in thinking the border is not the entry. It is the door they are walking through.”
Perry, who acknowledged there was no evidence, but offered what he said was “anecdotal” proof that it was already going on.
“I’ll give you one anecdotal picture of what’s happening: Three Ukrainian individuals were apprehended in a ranch in far west Texas within the last 60 days," he said, according to Business Insider.
Despite the governor's assertion, sources like PolitiFact say that the Ukraine "is not a country with strong terrorist ties.”
This is not the first time Perry has voiced his concern about terrorists groups coming to the U.S. through Mexico. In an interview with Fox News in July, Perry said that there are “people that are coming from states like Syria [who] have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations.”
The U.S. State Department said last year that there was no known cells linked to international terrorist organizations operating in the United States and “There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, and there is no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory.”
Perry’s comments on Thursday about the border were part of a speech in Washington that was supposed to center mainly on immigration but delved into the belief that a more aggressive U.S. military response in Iraq is needed.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate dismissed the "limited" air strikes that President Barack Obama has ordered as insufficient as the U.S. tries to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain control of large sections of Iraq that have been taken by ISIS.
Perry also faulted Obama for not providing arms to Syrian rebels battling forces loyal to President Bashar Assad early in the 3-year-old civil war in that country. He called Obama's insistence that "Assad must go" an "opinion, not a policy."
The governor's appearance came a week after he was indicted by a grand jury in Austin on charges stemming from his threat to withhold state funds from the Austin District Attorney's office unless DA Rosemary Lemberg, a Democrat who had been charged for driving while intoxicated, resigned.
Perry pleaded not guilty on Tuesday shortly after he was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken.
He has shrugged off the pair of indictments, saying he is "very confident" in his case and quoting Democratic pundits who have suggested the charges were politically motivated.
Perry, whose 2012 presidential bid collapsed under the weight of his gaffes, is testing his political viability. After D.C., he is heading to New Hampshire, one of the early battlegrounds in the presidential campaign, for two days and then traveling to South Carolina next week.
In his speech, Perry described the ISIS militants as one of the most serious threats to the U.S. after attacks on the Iraqi Christian minority and the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
On immigration, the Texas governor dismissed any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform, saying the border must be secured first. He said Obama has a constitutional obligation to protect the border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.