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Last week, Voices Magazine published a story about a “new” illegal immigration problem the U.S. Border Patrol is experiencing – as if this overworked, understaffed and much-maligned thin, green line of professional men and women needed another immigration-related dilemma.

According to the report, the USBP says there has been a dramatic increase in the number of OTMs – other than Mexicans – being apprehended along the U.S. southwest border.

In all of 2003, the patrol says its agents caught 39,000 OTMs, but already this year that figure has climbed to more than 85,000 – more than double two years ago. Of this number, the largest ethnic group is comprised of Brazilians – in excess of 12,000 in the first half of this year alone.

That’s bad news, especially for the USBP. But the reason this phenomenon of an increase in OTMs is significant has less to do with the problem of illegal immigration than it does with the ever-present threat of terrorism. Many of these OTMs come from countries we suspect of supporting terrorism against the United States or, at a minimum, of at least looking the other way while terrorist forces train, equip, rest and heal on their soil.

Is Brazil one of those countries? You may not think so, but there is mounting evidence that our terrorist enemies have some interests there.

For one, al-Qaida suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – suspected mastermind of the 9-11 attacks who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2003 – visited Brazil for 20 days in late 1995, before heading to the Netherlands. Authorities believe Mohammed, while still in Brazil, may have traveled to an area of the country bordering Paraguay and Argentina, a region suspected of harboring a militant Islamic movement believed to be a fund-raising conduit for terrorist activities. The tri-border area is one Osama bin Laden is suspected to have visited that same year.

Months before, Egyptian national Mohammed Ali Soliman was arrested in Brazil in April 2002. “The Egyptian government believes Mr. Soliman is an al-Qaida member and has asked for his extradition to Egypt,” wrote Washington Times national security reporters Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough.

Also, some U.S. leaders and officials have begun to consider Brazil a “country of interest” in the global terror war.

“Brazil is one. It’s a visa-waiver country with Mexico. A bad guy who wants to go to the United States can first go to Brazil and then go to Mexico, and at that point it’s easy to go north and cross illegally and not be caught – or be caught” then released, said Cathy Travis, a spokeswoman for Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas. (Note: OTMs are required to be released, by law, pending a deportation hearing that is usually months in the offing. Needless to say, most don’t show up for the hearing.)

Finally, there is this geopolitical consideration. Brazil’s leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has adopted economic and other policies that are likely to plunge his nation headlong into communism, say experts. Also, he is allying himself with other leftist, communist dictators in the hemisphere, most notably Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

“Brazil seems to be the center of the growing Marxist threat, and has even reported to be resisting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s request for spot inspections of its nuclear site,” says author and analyst and former U.S. Marine H. Thomas Hayden. “Additionally, Brazil has announced that it expects to join the select group of nations that produce enriched uranium. Indications are that Brazil is moving toward developing nuclear weapons.”

He says the conditions are ripe for collaborative efforts with other U.S. enemies, such as al-Qaida – which is already suspected of receiving some assistance from the leftist, Marxist guerilla groups in neighboring Colombia.

So let’s review, Brazil is considered a “country of interest” in the global terror war, and one which is being led by anti-U.S. factions. Brazilians and other South American OTMs arrested sneaking into the U.S. are not held by U.S. border enforcement authorities. Brazilians are not immediately sent back home, either. They are simply released back into American society, and told to report months later for a deportation hearing – which most skip. From that point, it’s virtually impossible to know where these people wind up.

That rattling sound you hear coming from our southwest border is the noise of so many terrorists at the gate.

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