Claims about 50 al-Qaeda arrests in Denver are false

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An X post with more than 1 million views claims that because of “open borders,” the Denver police have arrested 50 al-Qaeda members in two months. That’s false.

Lawmakers across the country have been outspoken about the current number of migrants entering the country and staying in major U.S. cities. Some local lawmakers, including in Denver Colorado, have said they are running out of room to house them. 

During a Jan. 30 town hall, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said, “We have filled every single hotel room that we have available in the city and county of Denver.” As of Feb. 4, there were roughly 3,800 migrants sheltered in the county of Denver, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management. 

Former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump has claimed that because of the Biden Administration’s border policies, terrorists are likely crossing the U.S. border. 

A viral post on X claims to confirm that terror-connected arrests have been made in the Mile High City. 

User @WallStreetApes shared a post and a video saying a Denver police officer at the airport told him Denver police arrested more than 50 al-Qaeda members in the last two months. Al-Qaeda is a designated foreign terror organization that was founded by Osama Bin Laden.

The post implied the country’s “open borders” have allowed the establishment of terrorist “sleeper cells,” or a group of terrorists working in secret until they are called to action, across the state of Colorado. Commenters on the post questioned the claims.

THE QUESTION

Did Denver police recently arrest 50 al-Qaeda members?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER 

This is false.

No, Denver police did not recently arrest 50 al-Qaeda members. 

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WHAT WE FOUND

In statements to VERIFY and on social media, the Denver Police Department said “the claim that Denver Police have arrested more than 50 [al-Qaeda] members in the last two months is false.”  Further, VERIFY found no local or federal record of such arrests being made. 

Historically, the U.S. attorney’s office has announced the arrest of terror suspects within days of their arrest. 

That’s key because federal law requires suspects to make an initial appearance in open court within 72 hours of their arrest, according to an FBI explainer on the federal criminal justice process. 

VERIFY found no evidence or reports in the federal court system of any initial appearances by alleged al-Qaeda members arrested in Denver in the last two months. 

The last time a public announcement of an arrest of someone connected to terrorism was on Dec. 20, 2023. According to the DOJ release, two days earlier an 18-year-old from Westminster, Colorado, was arrested by the FBI at the Denver International Airport. Humzah Mashkoor was allegedly trying to board a flight to the Middle East to become a fighter for the terror group ISIS.

In July 2023, Davin Daniel Meyer, 18, of Castle Rock, Colorado, was arrested at the airport as he attempted to board an international flight to also allegedly become an ISIS fighter, according to a release. The arrest was made by the FBI, with local assistance by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, on July 14, 2023 and the announcement was made within the 72-hour window of an initial appearance on July 17, 2023. 

The most recent case involving al-Qaeda in Colorado was nearly 10 years ago when a Colorado woman was arrested by the FBI trying to fly from Denver to Syria in support of al-Qaeda. On Jan. 23, 2015, she was sentenced to four years in prison. 

Regarding the claim made in the viral video about sleeper cells in Denver, DPD told VERIFY they do “not have information that would substantiate the claim that there are ‘sleeper cells’ within our city.”

In an email to VERIFY, the DPD said while they do assist federal authorities with investigations or arrests relating to terror, the investigations are typically led by federal agencies. VERIFY reached out to the Department of Justice and FBI and did not hear back by the time of publication.

VERIFY reached out to the Denver Mayor’s office and Denver’s Office of Emergency Management and each department deferred to the Denver Police Department’s statement that the claim is false. 

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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Claims about 50 al-Qaeda arrests in Denver are false

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