June 25, 2019 / 11:57 PM / 25 days ago

Nicaragua arrests four men suspected of ties to Islamic State

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Four men with suspected ties to the Islamic State militant group were captured on Tuesday by members of the Nicaraguan armed forces after entering the country illegally from Costa Rica, Nicaraguan police said.

The identities of three of the men matched those of suspects featured in an alert attributed to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) warning that three possible terrorists had recently arrived in Central America.

In a statement, Nicaraguan police said two of the men were Egyptian nationals and the other two were Iraqi. The four were due to be deported back to Costa Rica, it added.

The Egyptians were named as Mohamed Ibrahim, 33, and Mahmoud Samy Eissa, 26, while the Iraqis were Ahmed Ghanim Mohamed Al Jubury, 41 and Mustafa Ali Mohamed Yaoob, 29.

The first three men were named in the HSI alert published by Mexican media on Monday, which identified them as possible members of Islamic State headed for the United States.

Questioned on the HSI alert on Tuesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government was aware of the search for the suspects and was dealing with the matter.

U.S. Homeland Security officials could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.

The three men who featured in the HSI alert were registered in Costa Rica on June 9, according to the Nicaraguan statement. That date matched the information as the HSI statement.

The fourth suspect, Mohamed Yaoob, was registered in Costa Rica on June 13, the statement said.

The men entered Nicaragua through an unauthorized crossing point known as La Guasimada in the Cardenas municipality on the southwestern border with Costa Rica, Nicaraguan police said.

After arresting the men at around 10 a.m., the army handed them over to national police for investigation, whereupon they were taken to migration authorities for deportation via the Penas Blancas border crossing, the statement said.

The four men were delivered to Costa Rican migration authorities at around 7 p.m., Nicaragua’s government said.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Lisa Shumaker

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