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Homefact-checkFact Check: Does Hamas have a training center in Mexico?

Fact Check: Does Hamas have a training center in Mexico?

Hamas’ recent attack on Israel has sparked a series of unsubstantiated claims it could attempt to make inroads into the U.S. via the country’s border with Mexico.

Former President Donald Trump, among others, shared a baseless theory that President’s Joe Biden‘s immigration policies had resulted in Hamas militants “pouring” across the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump also said that Biden and his “boss,” former President Barack Obama, would be responsible for any Hamas attacks inside the U.S.

According to one social media post this week, the group even has a training center in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

The Claim

A post on X, formerly Twitter, on October 8, 2023, by user @SarahisCensored, and since viewed 1.5 million times, claimed that Hamas had a training camp in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

The post stated: “For years, in Matamoros, Mexico, directly across the border from Brownsville, Tx, Hamas had a training center. Once a large factory, the building was used to train young, military age men.

“Dressed in all black, these men would wait for the river to be low enough to cross over the border and illegally infiltrate the US for further training. Hamas has training camps in Mexico, and has for a long time.

“Thousands of jihadists have crossed the border and disappeared into the US. Some given rooms and cell phones (courtesy of your tax dollars). Many have been flown to multiple cities through out the United States including Hartford, Tampa, Atlanta and Houston. The majority that travels into this country illegally are not women and children, they are military age men.

“America needs to wake up. Thousands of sleeper fighters are in our backyard and the Biden Administration is not only aware, they’re complicit. The attack on Israel is only the beginning. Get your households in order.”

The @SarahisCensored account is owned by Sarah Fields, who identifies herself as president/director of advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition, which says it supports “constitutional government and pro-family issues in the state of Texas.”

The Facts

Newsweek was unable to find any evidence that Hamas had, or has, a training camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

No searches on a variety of terms predating the current conflict returned any results even suggestive of a link between Hamas militants and training camps in Matamoros or elsewhere in Mexico.

Newsweek has contacted the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Mexican government and the National Intelligence Center in Mexico for information relating to Hamas’ alleged presence in the country.

The claim, as shared on X, was presented without evidence. Newsweek has contacted Sarah Fields to ask for further information.

Matamoros is a relatively built-up city near the border shared by southern Texas in an area which is heavily monitored by U.S. and Mexican border security.

Congressional reports produced between 2017-2023 by the U.S. Department of State, reporting on international terrorist threats, have consistently stated that there has been no credible evidence “indicating international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked directly with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.”

According to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Hamas is based primarily in Gaza, but maintains a presence in the West Bank, Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and “key regional capitals” including Doha, Qatar, and Cairo.

Blockades out of Gaza severely restrict the organization’s movement too, let alone giving it the opportunity to set up camp in Matamoros.

Both the political and militant arm of Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S.

The Associated Press has reported that at least 2,100 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict in Israel, with thousands more injured.

The Ruling

False.

There is no evidence that Hamas has or ever had a presence in Matamoros or Mexico. The claim was presented without evidence, putting aside the logistical and logical sense behind a group based primarily, and blockaded, in Gaza establishing a camp in Mexico. It also contradicts multi-year U.S. intelligence reports that state there is no credible evidence of international terrorist groups having established bases in Mexico.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false. Read more about our ratings.

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