Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism
U.S. Experts Wary of Military Action Over Nuclear Program
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 2, 2006; A01
As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.
Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.
U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official said. "It's a huge issue," another said.
Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information, U.S. intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.
But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.
The possibility of a military confrontation has been raised only obliquely in recent months by President Bush and Iran's government. Bush says he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but he has added that all options are on the table for stopping Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Speaking in Vienna last month, Javad Vaeedi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, warned the United States that "it may have the power to cause harm and pain, but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wants to pursue that path, let the ball roll," although he did not specify what type of harm he was talking about.
Government officials said their interest in Iran's intelligence services is not an indication that a military confrontation is imminent or likely, but rather a reflection of a decades-long adversarial relationship in which Iran's agents have worked secretly against U.S. interests, most recently in Iraq and Pakistan. As confrontation over Iran's nuclear program has escalated, so has the effort to assess the threat from Iran's covert operatives.
U.N. Security Council members continue to debate how best to pressure Iran to prove that its nuclear program is not meant for weapons. The United States, Britain and France want the Security Council to threaten Iran with economic sanctions if it does not end its uranium enrichment activities. Russia and China, however, have declined to endorse such action and insist on continued negotiations. Security Council diplomats are meeting this weekend to try to break the impasse. Iran says it seeks nuclear power but not nuclear weapons.
Former CIA terrorism analyst Paul R. Pillar said that any U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iranian territory "would be regarded as an act of war" by Tehran, and that Iran would strike back with its terrorist groups. "There's no doubt in my mind about that. . . . Whether it's overseas at the hands of Hezbollah, in Iraq or possibly Europe, within the regime there would be pressure to take violent action."
Before Sept. 11, the armed wing of Hezbollah, often working on behalf of Iran, was responsible for more American deaths than in any other terrorist attacks. In 1983 Hezbollah truck-bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241, and in 1996 truck-bombed Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. service members.
Iran's intelligence service, operating out of its embassies around the world, assassinated dozens of monarchists and political dissidents in Europe, Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East in the two decades after the 1979 Iranian revolution, which brought to power a religious Shiite government. Argentine officials also believe Iranian agents bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 86 people. Iran has denied involvement in that attack.
Iran's intelligence services "are well trained, fairly sophisticated and have been doing this for decades," said Crumpton, a former deputy of operations at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. "They are still very capable. I don't see their capabilities as having diminished."
Both sides have increased their activities against the other. The Bush administration is spending $75 million to step up pressure on the Iranian government, including funding non-governmental organizations and alternative media broadcasts. Iran's parliament then approved $13.6 million to counter what it calls "plots and acts of meddling" by the United States.
"Given the uptick in interest in Iran" on the part of the United States, "it would be a very logical assumption that we have both ratcheted up [intelligence] collection, absolutely," said Fred Barton, a former counterterrorism official who is now vice president of counterterrorism for Stratfor, a security consulting and forecasting firm. "It would be a more fevered pitch on the Iranian side because they have fewer options."
The office of the director of national intelligence, which recently began to manage the U.S. intelligence agencies, declined to allow its analysts to discuss their assessment of Iran's intelligence services and Hezbollah and their capabilities to retaliate against U.S. interests.
"We are unable to address your questions in an unclassified manner," a spokesman for the office, Carl Kropf, wrote in response to a Washington Post query.
The current state of Iran's intelligence apparatus is the subject of debate among experts. Some experts who spent their careers tracking the intelligence ministry's operatives describe them as deployed worldwide and easier to monitor than Hezbollah cells because they operate out of embassies and behave more like a traditional spy service such as the Soviet KGB.
Other experts believe the Iranian service has become bogged down in intense, regional concerns: attacks on Shiites in Pakistan, the Iraq war and efforts to combat drug trafficking in Iran.
As a result, said Bahman Baktiari, an Iran expert at the University of Maine, the intelligence service has downsized its operations in Europe and the United States. But, said Baktiari, "I think the U.S. government doesn't have a handle on this."
Because Iran's nuclear facilities are scattered around the country, some military specialists doubt a strike could effectively end the program and would require hundreds of strikes beforehand to disable Iran's vast air defenses. They say airstrikes would most likely inflame the Muslim world, alienate reformers within Iran and could serve to unite Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, which have only limited contact currently.
A report by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks cited al-Qaeda's long-standing cooperation with the Iranian-back Hezbollah on certain operations and said Osama bin Laden may have had a previously undisclosed role in the Khobar attack. Several al-Qaeda figures are reportedly under house arrest in Iran.
Others in the law enforcement and intelligence circles have been more dubious about cooperation between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, largely because of the rivalries between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Al-Qaeda adherents are Sunni Muslims; Hezbollah's are Shiites.
Iran "certainly wants to remind governments that they can create a lot of difficulty if strikes were to occur," said a senior European counterterrorism official interviewed recently. "That they might react with all means, Hezbollah inside Lebanon and outside Lebanon, this is certain. Al-Qaeda could become a tactical alliance."
If we decide to take out their nuclear sites by air strikes.
If Iran began sending small terrorist squads to attack us inside the United States.
I think that would be about the most stupid thing they could do, and I don't think that they are that stupid.
The government would know that it would be the end for them controling the country.
And that is not something they want to lose. It would get really ugly
Just my opinion
I say bring it,you Iranian bastards!
They'll bring it and then?
...we'll lose more freedom. More excuses to take our freedom while they leave the US wide the fuck open to illegals aliens and terrorists.
Iran isn't the #1 priority. Securing this nation from illegals and terrorists is the priority. We have no border security. We have no civil defense. We have no civilian prepardedness but suggestions to buy duct tape, tuna and powdered milk.
I want this Nation secured before any more foreign adventures. Bush has a duty to Americans first and he is NOT doing his duty.
What are we going to 'secure' it with? T-1000 battledroids?
Sorry, but you & those who state the above have NO IDEA about the manpower required to do what you ask....
'Foreign Adventures' will go a long way against terror, hiding behind a few rows of concentina wire won't....
Fuck Iran, fuck Mexico, and fuck Bush for not living up to his oath and securing the border.
I am sure Iran already has their terrorists agents already in place in this country. It just makes sense to have them already in place. All they had to do was walk across our southern border. If simple peasants have no problem crossing I am sure military trained special forces would have no problem what so ever. How many OTM or Other Than Mexicans have been arrested by the border patrol. For everyone arrested I imagine 9 or 10 made it into the country. If we do attack Iran and have domestic terrorists attacks the libtards will blame it on lack of gun control.
A wall won't help now, the Iraninans are already here. They have been sneaking over the border for months now. This country is going downhill fast out here in the west.
Looks like they're not blinking...
Iran: High-speed underwater missile test-fired
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran announced its second major missile test in a week, saying Sunday it has successfully fired a high-speed underwater missile capable of destroying huge warships and submarines.
The Iranian-made missile has a speed of 223 mph underwater, Gen. Ali Fadavi, deputy head of the Navy of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said.
He called it the fastest underwater missile in the world -- but it has the same speed as the Russian-made VA-111 Shkval, developed in 1995 and believed to be the world's fastest, three or four times faster than a torpedo.
It was not immediately known if the Iranian missile, which has not yet been named, was based on the Shkval, or if it can carry a nuclear warhead.
"It has a very powerful warhead designed to hit big submarines. Even if enemy warship sensors identify the missile, no warship can escape from this missile because of its high speed," Fadavi told state-run television.
The missile test was conducted during the third day of large-scale military maneuvers by tens of thousands of the elite Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.
Iran on Friday test-fired the Fajr-3 missile, which can avoid radars and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads. The Guards said the test was successful.
The missile tests and war games coincide with increasing tension between Iran and the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
The United States and its allies believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies that, saying its program is for generating electricity.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment activities. But Tehran said its activities are "not reversible."
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.
Exactly how many of those types do we have here in this country already?
It would be a mess.
I say bomb them. If they start terrorist attacks bomb some more. Repeat.
Bring it you Iranian motherfuckers. We'll wipe our asses with your heads.
But these migrants (Iranians) just want to bomb folks that Americans won't bomb.
What BS... proof that Persians (specifically) have been sneaking across please? LMAO.... I swear what some of you all conjure up in your imaginations. Lets see here.. at first when the "War on Terror" first started it was the Afghan's that where sneaking into the US, then right before we went into Iraq it was the Iraqi's who were crossing over to do us in in some major terror plot and now low and behold it's that Iranian's who are coming to get us!!! Oh nooooes!!!!!!!1111111111111...
Bluffing, pure and simple. I don't buy the "missle tests" either.
I am thinking they are already here and I bet they didnt need to sneak in from Mexico. A wall will not stop them. They are comming in and will continue to come in via legal channels.
For all the hysteria about border security, hasn't it occurred to you that it is MUCH EASIER for a FOREIGN INTELLEGENCE AGENCY to forge some PASSPORTS and just FLY INTO THE USA ON AN AIRLINE FROM EUROPE than to go rucking thru the Mexican desert to get here????
I mean, why sneak in from mexico when you can just walk off a plane from France?
Iran, and AQ for that matter, definately have the resources to forge passports... Just like the KGB did back in the cold war....
Why sneak in the back door when you can walk in the front?
Forged passports would work. So does this.
November 18, 2003
Memo From Mexico, By Allan Wall
Yes, Raoul, There Is A Terrorist Threat From Mexico
Raoul Lowery Contreras, one of several professional Hispanic apologists that the American media seems obliged to employ, has repeatedly asserted that the influx of illegals across the Mexican border poses no terrorist threat to the U.S.
He was always wrong, but with the recent breakup of a Tijuana illegal alien smuggling ring that specialized in Arabs, and included a former Mexican consul, he looks ridiculous.
Here’s the confident Contreras:
“As fifteen of the nineteen September 11th killers were from Saudi Arabia and entered the United States legally through American airports, not illegally from Mexico, why look to Mexico?”
—Raoul Lowery Contreras, Empty Words to an Empty Chamber, Hispanic Vista, Sept. 23rd, 2002.
“Not a single one of the 19-suicide hijackers came from or even through Mexico....Immigrants did not commit September 11th, especially immigrants from Mexico. Nonetheless, Mexican-haters [Contreras-speak for critics of open borders] ....permeate our air with hateful lies that hurt the country far more than those guys slicing bacon, trimming lawns, or picking strawberries.”
—Raoul Lowery Contreras, The Haters Wear No Clothes, Hispanic Vista, Dec. 2nd, 2002.
As of tonight, Contreras has not commented on the Tijuana ring.
Ringleader of the smuggling operation was Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Arab ancestry and a Tijuana restaurant owner. His restaurant “La Libanesa” numbered among its customers employees of the local U.S. consulate.
In June of 2003, Boughader was sentenced in the United States to one year and one day for human smuggling. [Smuggling ring boss sentenced to one year, Sandra Dibble, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 20th, 2003.]
But by November 2003, he was back in business in Tijuana and was arrested by Mexican authorities.
Boughader also had accomplices, some still at large. One was arrested on November 12th in Mexico City—Imelda Ortiz Abdala, of Arabic ancestry on her mother’s side and formerly the Mexican consul in Lebanon.
According to the AP report (Ex-Mexican consul arrested in connection with trafficking of illegal Arab migrants, Lisa J. Adams, AP, Nov. 13th, 2003):
“Ortiz, a 25-year foreign service employee, was fired in May after 150 Mexican passports were stolen and two others were found to have been issued irregularly at a Mexico City consular office, the Foreign Relations Dept. said.
That passport case, by the way, is completely separate from the Tijuana smuggling case.
What exactly was Ortiz’ role in Boughader’s smuggling ring? According to El Universal, “it seems [Imelda Ortiz] took advantage of her position to issue documents that permitted the passage of illegal aliens to U.S. territory.” [my translation] (Detienen a ex cónsul; internaba árabes a EU, Silvia Otero, El Universal, Nov. 13th, 2003)
Document fraud, in other words, being practiced by a long-serving Mexican diplomat.
It has also been revealed that Imelda Ortiz Abdala was in Beirut, Lebanon, from May of 1998 to October of 2001, serving as the head of Mexico’s consular section in Lebanon. [Ex cónsul mexicana, detenida por nexos con un extremista, El Universal, Nov. 14th, 2003]
While serving in Lebanon, Consul Ortiz Abdala issued a Mexican visa to Al Afani Sghir, an alleged Shiite extremist. Apparently, she also met Boughader while serving in Lebanon.
The spin put on this scandal by the Mexican government, of course: We are cooperating with the U.S. in border security and thus are arresting these smugglers.
Yeah, yeah. But how many such smuggling rings are still undiscovered? How many are going on right under the nose of U.S. diplomats? How many other Mexican diplomats are involved?
In fact, contra Contreras, it has always been obvious that any “Homeland Security” worthy of the name must address the potential terrorist threat on the Mexican border. For the following reasons:
bullet A Porous Border Is A Porous Border For Everybody—Not Only Mexicans
Hundreds of thousands of people cross the border illegally every year. Besides Mexican crossers, there are what the Border Patrol calls “OTMs” (Other Than Mexicans). There’s even a route north of Douglas, Arizona, known as the “Arab Road”.
(Arabs are reportedly charged more by smugglers—$30,000, while the going rate for a Mexican is more like $1,150- $1500. Sounds discriminatory to me!)
Earlier this year, in a bizarre incident rife with poetic justice, Walter Kolbe, the brother of Arizona’s immigration enthusiast congressman Jim Kolbe found an Arabic diary, left by a border crosser, on his own property! [Arabic diary found near border, Feb. 13th, 2003, World Net Daily]
bullet Some Arabs Resemble Mexicans (And Vice-Versa)
Last spring there was a joke circulating here in Mexico on the Internet. “Saddam Located in Mexico” the joke’s subject line announced. The message: Saddam Hussein had relocated to Mexico where he was employed as a taco vendor. It contained a photo—of a Mexican taco vendor.
And the guy was a dead ringer for Saddam Hussein!
It was considered funny exactly because Saddam’s physical appearance does match that of many Mexicans.
Middle Eastern illegal aliens can easily blend in with Mexican illegal aliens. As long as you don’t hear them speak, they can get away with it. Which makes it even easier to cross the border.
bullet There Are Significant Arab And Muslim communities In Mexico
About half a million Mexicans are of Arab ancestry, mostly Lebanese and Palestinian. Quite a few of them are prosperous—and powerful. The richest man in Mexico is of Lebanese ancestry—Carlos Slim, son of Yusuf Salim. And don’t forget half-Arab Mexican actress Salma Hayek, who recently announced she wants to be a U.S. citizen to “have a voice that supports the Latino community in the United States.” There are still immigrants arriving from the Middle East.
bullet Islam Is Gaining Adherents In Mexico
And not only by the importation of Muslim immigrants. Some native Mexicans have converted to Islam, including Indians in the state of Chiapas.
Please don’t accuse me of saying all Arabs and/or Muslims are terrorists.
But the fact is - wherever such communities exist in the West, they provide a convenient cover for the hiding of terrorist operatives.
bullet Middle Eastern Terrorist Groups Already Have Links To Mexico
“...there is absolutely no evidence that there are ‘terrorist cells’ in Mexico of Al Qaeda or Hizbollah, Al Fatah, or any other Arab/Muslim terrorist group.”
—Raoul Lowery Contreras, Empty Words to an Empty Chamber.
Contreras sounds very confident again—more confident, in fact, than the Mexican government itself. Even before 9/11, Fox’s national security adviser Adolfo Aguilar (now Mexican representative in the UN) admitted the presence of Islamic radicals in Mexico, and the media identified the group as Hezbollah.
Just recently, a summit of Latin American intelligence chiefs was held in Cartagena, Colombia. The intel chiefs of 20 Latin American nations were there. The guest of honor was Welsh author Gordon Thomas, who has written a number of bestselling books on espionage. [Al-Qaeda sostuvo reunión en México, El Universal, October 30th, 2003]
At this conference, it was reported that Al Qaeda held a meeting in Mexico in 2001 to make contacts in the country, and with terrorists from Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Al Qaeda is said to have a presence in several Latin American countries and links with Columbia’s FARC guerrillas.
Stopping terrorists on the border is America’s only hope. Once in country, and depending on the local jurisdiction, a hypothetical Al Qaeda operative can easily submerge himself in the officially-encouraged system of nebulous quasi-legality. There are driver’s licenses available even to illegal aliens, matriculas consulares from a growing collection of nations, and ethnic neighborhoods he can easily blend into.
What’s amazing is not that it could happen—but why it hasn’t happened already.
American citizen Allan Wall lives and works legally in Mexico, where he holds an FM-2 residency and work permit, but serves six weeks a year with the Texas Army National Guard, in a unit composed almost entirely of Americans of Mexican ancestry. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here; his website is here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheesh, don't let logic interrupt the nine millionth inane "fuck Bush for not securing the border" thread.
They cannot withstand repeated bombing from the air from us or Israel. They'd cry 'Uncle' so fast before their entire infrastructure was blown to hell.
For further reading
2005 July 26 Tuesday
Other Than Mexican Flood Increasing At US-Mexican Border
What happens when the law goes unenforced? At the risk of stating the obvious and insulting my readers: When the law is not enforced more people break the law. The word has gotten out to an increasing number of "Other Than Mexicans" that if they can cross the border from Mexico into the United States that they will not be deported even if caught.
Already this year, the number of non-Mexican apprehensions has far outpaced last year's total in just eight months. And while they are still a relatively small percentage compared with the number of illegal Mexicans, critics say the federal government's policy in dealing with them is far more dangerous.
Because OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" as the Border Patrol classifies them, must be returned to their country of origin, they cannot be simply sent back across the southern border, as most Mexicans are. Under US law, they must be detained (in the US) pending a deportation hearing. The problem is, immigration detention centers are packed, so most OTMs are given a court summons and told to return in three months. A full 85 percent don't.
According to the Border Patrol, some 465,000 OTMs have taken advantage of this "catch and release" policy to settle here in the US. "It's an insane policy which encourages OTMs to come into the country illegally, and we shouldn't be shocked that they are coming in record numbers," says T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents more than 9,000 agents.
I predict that until all OTMs caught on the border get held for deportation the number of OTMs crossing the border will continue to grow at double digit percentage rates each year. The longer the problem goes unaddressed the bigger and more expensive the fix will become. Right now we need the ability to hold perhaps at most a half million OTMs at once in detention. Eventually we will need the ability to hold millions of them.
A border barrier is already the cheapest way to stop the Mexican illegal immigrant flood. As the OTM flood increases a border barrier will also become the cheapest way to stop that as well. Estimates for the cost of Israel's barrier fence with the West Bank range upward toward $2 billion dollars with per mile costs ranging from $3 million to $3.5 million to $4.15 million. The total US-Mexican border runs 1951 miles. Taking the $4.15 million per mile border barrier cost the total cost of a barrier on the full length of the US-Mexican border runs to $8.1 billion dollars. But even if we doubled the cost per mile to make concrete barriers taller with perhaps another fence layer and put more concertina wire on the barrier layers in order to make the barrier even harder to cross the total would be only $16 billion.
Instead of tough enforcement of immigration and border control imagine we go in the opposite direction. The gradually building flood of OTMs with no attempt made to deport most OTMs is pushing America toward de facto open borders. Where will that take us? Steve Sailer says if America adopts total open borders as much as 1.5 billion people would try immigrate to the United States.
What about in the long run? We have two informative examples:
1. The U.S. maintains an open border with its territory of Puerto Rico. One-fourth of all Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, and that proportion is kept down only by paying generous benefits to Puerto Ricans who stay home.
2. There are currently 106 million people in Mexico and approximately 25 million people of Mexican descent in the United States. In other words, just under 1/5th of all Mexicans in the world now live in America. And they got here without an official open borders plan.
So what does that imply?
There are currently over six billion people who live neither in America nor Mexico. So, if one-fourth of the rest wanted to move to America, as happened with Puerto Ricans, that would be 1.5 additional billion people, compared to the current American population of 296 million.
If we formally gave up enforcing rules on immigration then over a few decade period the United States would grow to have a population of about 1.8 billion people. One has to be a lunatic to want such an outcome. Therefore it is not implausible that Bush and the neocons want exactly that. Why? They have faith in the most foolish ideas and consider embracing such ideas a virtue.
Maybe they want to make America become the most populated country in the world in order to outcompete China. But in order to outcompete China in the long run what we need is more brains, not more dummies. Totally open borders would bring in huge waves of dummies while the smarter people would recoil with horror from the thought of moving to a country with nearly two billion people speaking a "Tower of Babel" of languages. The racial and religious conflicts would lead to a civil war and dictatorship.
If you are not aware of just how dumb Bush's immigration policies and proposals really are I strongly urge you to read my post "Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal".
Update: Plans to extend the US-Mexican border barrier at San Diego the final 5 miles to the ocean put the cost at $5 million per mile even with special environmental restoration costs added in.
The project would denude a swath of vegetation about the width of a six-lane freeway. It would cut across a habitat preserve included in the Multiple Species Conservation Program, a system of interconnected open-space areas established by the federal and state governments.
To offset the project's damage to the habitat preserve, the Border Patrol has offered to restore plants to 85 miles of dirt roads – or 145 acres – that will no longer be necessary to patrol the border.
The final five miles of the project could cost an estimated $25 million, including $11 million to offset the loss of rare wildlife habitat.
With a barrier running the full length of the US-Mexico border there'd be no need for such large efforts at environmental harm abatement on most of its length. Note that the barrier width is similar to that of a 6 lane freeway and the United States has tens of thousands of miles of such freeways in the interstates highway system.
By Randall Parker at 2005 July 26 12:43 PM Immigration Law Enforcement
CoC prevents me from saying what I want.
Further Reading AQ and Iran have very close ties.
y Erick Stakelbeck
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2005
The new intelligence reform bill signed into law by President Bush on December 17 may ultimately end up being remembered more for the provisions it didn't contain rather than those it did.
After much heated debate, House and Senate negotiators ultimately threw out proposed provisions to the bill that would have tightened immigration laws. Although House Speaker Dennis Hastert has promised to bring drivers' license standards, asylum procedures and other border security provisions back to the House floor by early 2005, in the meantime, the very real danger that Islamist terrorists will infiltrate America's porous southern border persists.
Roughly 60,000 illegal immigrants designated as 'other-than-Mexican,' or OTMs, were detained last year along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a sizable number from Arab and Muslim countries. And if recent reports are any indication, they may be getting some troubling new help in their efforts to enter the United States.
In a December 4 incident that received scant media attention, a Bangladeshi Muslim man named Fakhrul Islam was among a group of 13 illegal aliens arrested near Brownsville, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. Border Patrol agents have said that one of the men detained along with Islam was a member of Mara Salvatrucha, a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with more than 300,000 members across Central and North America, including powerful enterprises in several major U.S. cities.
Mara Salvatrucha, also commonly known as 'MS-13' due to its members' proclivity for sporting tattoos of the number 13, is involved in a smorgasbord of illegal activity, including the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people across the Mexican border. The gang controls many of the smuggling routes from Mexico into the U.S., a fact that has not escaped Al-Qaeda operatives eager to carry out attacks on American soil.
In July, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with members of MS-13. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that El-Shukrijumah, who he has described as a 'clear and present danger to America,' is seeking ways to infiltrate the U.S. via the Mexican border, and is willing to pay top dollar in order to do so.
El-Shukrijumah, reportedly last seen in August in northern Mexicoknows that the potential killing of innocent American civilians would certainly not deter MS-13 from working with Al-Qaeda: the gang is thought to be responsible for thousands of murders and maimings throughout the Western Hemisphere; and, like Islamist terrorists, decapitations and home-made bombs are part of its grisly arsenal.
With a ruthless, money-driven cabal like MS-13 controlling much of the illegal traffic between the U.S. and Mexico, there's no telling how many Islamist terrorists have already taken advantage. That someone of Middle Eastern descent could blend in with a large group of Mexicans with similarly dark complexions -- thereby escaping closer scrutiny from border patrols -- is all too feasible.
Then again, an October intelligence report supplied to the Department of Homeland Security by Russian security services said that a group of 25 backpack-carrying Chechen terrorists -- all white -- illegally entered Arizona by way of Mexico last summer. Furthermore, in September, Farida Ahmed, a South African Muslim woman, pleaded guilty in a Texas court to illegal entry, lying to a federal agent and using an altered passport. Ahmed had been detained by Border Patrol officers in July as she tried to board a plane for New York out of Texas.
At the time of her arrest, Ahmed was carrying $7,300 in various currencies as well as a fake South African passport that was missing pages. She admitted to entering the U.S. illegally by wading across the Rio Grande, and her travel itinerary showed that on her way to America, she had stopped in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, just as several of the 9/11 hijackers had done.
It was announced last week that Ahmed is due to be deported. But many non-Mexican illegal aliens like Ahmed are invariably released by immigration officials who simply don't have the detention space to hold them. Worse, up to 85 percent of them skip their scheduled immigration hearings, only to disappear into American society.
While entry into the U.S. is their primary goal in establishing a base in Latin America, Islamist terrorists -- well-aware of the allure Marxism once held for many south of the border -- also see the region as a potential breeding ground for Islamic converts due to its poor economic and social conditions and corrupt governments.
For instance, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah wields a strong presence in the tri-border region, a lawless, crime-ridden area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay intersect. Both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are also said to have spent time there, during the 1990's.
It was Mohammed who in 2002 encouraged alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla to 'enter the United States by way of Mexico' in order to carry out attacks on U.S. targets, according to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Ironically, before converting to Islam and volunteering his services to Al-Qaeda, Padilla belonged to the Chicago chapter of the Latin Kings -- like MS-13, a violent Hispanic criminal gang.
Although U.S. agents were able to collar Padilla before he could carry out a terrorist attack, the U.S. border strategy, as presently construed, may one day soon yield a much less savory result. Come January, lawmakers should take notice.
Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer at the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism research institute.
AQ seems very able to adapt. If we shut a door and leave a window open, they will change tactics. I agree with bombing Iran and plugging the border. (pull out the old "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran beach boys spoofs)