Protestors are seen here calling on President Barack Obama to...

Protestors are seen here calling on President Barack Obama to help end the bloodshed caused by terrorist group ISIS. ISIS was seventh in Google's list of most-searched terms in 2014. Credit: AP / Brandy Baker

Pedro Luis Hidalgo, who runs an animal-feed store about a mile south of the border, scoffs at warnings from U.S. right-wingers that Islamic terrorists are near his home.

Washington's conservative Judicial Watch for months has charged that the areas around Ciudad Juarez have become hotbeds of Middle Eastern militants bent on invading America. Last month, the group said it had proof that there was a training camp in Anapra, a community on the western end of Juarez.

"Here we have drug traffickers and delinquents. Thank God, we don't have terrorists," said Hidalgo, 39, to nods of approval of two neighbors visiting his feed store.

FBI and Homeland Security officials said they found no evidence that the Judicial Watch report was accurate.

Of course, it's difficult to prove that no one is hiding in an unknown cave in the barren landscape around Anapra, which three decades ago was little more than a sprawling squatters' camp, but has grown to an impoverished, crime-ridden community of about 40,000 people.

Sandwiched between the U.S. border fence and the Chihuahua Desert, Anapra is easily viewed from the U.S. side. Border Patrol agents watch from peaks and plateaus above Anapra.

Judicial Watch, a legal group that regularly files lawsuits on behalf of conservative causes, and issues reports on its view of current events, says it is sticking by its story of training camps. It won't identify its sources and, for the last month, has given no additional information on the supposed camps.

Despite the denials by U.S. officials and residents of Anapra, several vocal congressional Republicans have insisted that Middle Eastern terrorists are on the Mexican border and intent on attacking America. And that type of allegation increasingly has become a part of the immigration debate in Congress, talk radio, and the huge world of bloggers.

"We know that ISIS is present in Ciudad Juarez, or they were within the last few weeks," Rep. Trent Franks, R., Ariz., said in September on a rightist radio show, using another common name for the Islamic State. "And so there's no question that they have designs on trying to come into Arizona." Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., went further on another radio show: "Name your terrorist organization, they're coming in through the southern border." Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Louis J. Barletta made a similar allegation in a September congressional hearing.

"Terrorist networks have been using our porous southern border and a broken immigration system to enter the United States," he said.

Some Anapra residents said that they heard about the congressmen's statements, covered by Mexican media outlets, but that the information didn't square with their knowledge of geography.

"Yes, ISIS exists, but not here. They are in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Govelin Arreola, 37, an Anapra construction worker.

Arreola, who worked in Texas for several years before he was deported in 2008, said drug violence was out of control in his town, though the killings had lessened recently. He pointed to the corner of his outside wall, where he said a man was murdered during a period of intense gang warfare.

Arreola's mother, Rosa Isela Valles, 57, who was selling used clothing at a weekly street market outside the house, had a more down-to-earth view of the threats on the border.

"Here there is the terrorism of hunger," Valles said, referring to the poverty in Anapra. "The people are in need of basic necessities."

Mark Fazlollah is a Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer.

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