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US-Mexico Border Video Does Not Show Leader of Azerbaijani ‘Islamic Terror Group’


Migrants take part in a caravan towards the border with the United States in Tapachula, Chiapas State, Mexico, Dec. 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Migrants take part in a caravan towards the border with the United States in Tapachula, Chiapas State, Mexico, Dec. 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Sarah Jessica Fields

Sarah Jessica Fields

president and director of advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition

"Now we know who this illegal immigrant is. Movsum Samadov, also known as Movsum Mardan oglu Samadov. He is the chairman of the Islamic Terrorists group Azerbaijani Islamic party."

False

On January 23, Sarah Jessica Fields, president and director of advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition, a conservative lobbying group, claimed on X that a man who was filmed after apparently illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico was Movsum Samadov, head of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan.

In the video clip, the man tells the person filming him: “You’re not smart enough to know who I am. But soon you’re gonna know who I am. Everyone will.”

Posts of the video, along with the claim that Samadov was the man featured in it, spread across social media and received millions of views on X.

Fields wrote in her post on X:

“Now we know who this illegal immigrant is. Movsum Samadov, also know [sic] as Movsum Mardan oglu Samadov. He is the chairman of the Islamic Terrorists group Azerbaijani Islamic party. He was sentenced to 12 years after being convicted of trying to overthrow the government. … He was convicted October 7th, 2011. He was released January 19th, 2023.”

That is false. The man in the video is not Movsum Samadov.

Movsum Samadov, chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, was arrested in 2011 on charges of preparing a terrorist attack and attempting a coup. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and released in January 2023.

On January 24, a day after the video became viral across social media along with the claim that Samadov was the man featured in it, the Azeri-language service of VOA sister organization Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) found the real Samadov in Azerbaijan and interviewed him.

In the interview, Samadov not only denied he was the man seen in the video clip but said he had not left Azerbaijan after his release from prison in January 2023 because the authorities had banned him from leaving the country.

“First of all, that person doesn't look like me,” Samadov told RFE/RL, referring to the man shown in the video clip. “When you compare, you will see that outwardly there is very little similarity, except for the glasses. Another important issue is that I am banned from leaving the country. Since I cannot leave the country, it is impossible for me to go there.”

RFE/RL also included a recent photo of Samadov in the article, which shows a much older man than the man shown in the U.S.-Mexico border video.

Movsum Samadov, chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan.
Movsum Samadov, chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan.

Samadov has also posted three videos of himself to YouTube since December 2023, in which he appears much older than the man featured in the U.S.-Mexico border video.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), profiled Samadov as being "imprisoned for criticizing religious freedom conditions and for his political activity." He was arrested after criticizing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ban on female students wearing hijab in public schools, the profile said.

Since 2013, USCIRF has called on the U.S. State Department to include Azerbaijan on its special watch list of religious freedom offenders, and the U.S. State Department did so in December 2023.

The video allegedly showing Samadov on the U.S.-Mexico border was produced by 1st Responders Media, which appears to be a group of people who travel along the southern border of the United States filming foreigners who have crossed illegally.

On January 24, X user Rayne' wrote that the man detained at the border was not Samadov. Her post was viewed only 8,000 times.

Immigration topped the list of the “most important issues facing the country today” in a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll conducted in the United States on January 17-18, 2024

More than a third of the registered U.S. voters surveyed – 35% – cited immigration as the most important issue facing the United States, up 7% from December 2023, with inflation coming in second (32%).

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from January 1, 2020, to September 30, 2023, 8.4 million foreigners were officially “encountered” while attempting to cross the U.S. border illegally — the largest such number in the country's history.

In the fiscal year 2023, which began on October 1, 2022, and ended on September 30, 2023, U.S. immigration officials apprehended on the southern and northern U.S. borders 736 people who were on the FBI’s list of known or suspected terrorists.

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    Polygraph.info is a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA). ​The website serves as a resource for verifying the increasing volume of disinformation and misinformation being distributed and shared globally. 

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