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Almost nine years after terrorists murdered 2,751 people on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. is still facing a major threat as hundreds of illegal aliens from countries known to support and sponsor terrorism sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. Mexico border in New Mexico. Only a small strand of barbed wire separates the two countries. (photo: 2006 congressional report)
‘Special-interest countries’ and ‘sponsors of terror’
Thousands of illegal aliens apprehended along the 2,000 mile border stretching through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas aren’t even from Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol calls them “Other Than Mexicans,” or OTMs, and many are citizens of countries that are sponsors of terrorism.
A 2006 congressional report on border threats, titled “A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border” and prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations, indicated that 1.2 million illegal aliens were apprehended in 2005 alone, and 165,000 of those were from countries other than Mexico. Approximately 650 were from “special interest countries,” or nations the Border Patrol defines as “designated by the intelligence community as countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism.”
Illegal aliens from Central America ride atop a freight train leaving Arriaga, Mexico, en route to the U.S. (photo: Hogar de la Misericordia, or Home of Mercy)
Atlanta’s WSB-TV2 aired a segment on U.S. border security after it obtained records from a federal detention center near Phoenix, Ariz., and found current listings for illegal aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen.
“We have left the back door to the United States open,” former Rep. J.D. Hayworth told the station. “We have to understand that there are definitely people who mean to do us harm who have crossed that border.”
WSB-TV 2 published a population breakdown from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement staging facility in Florence, Ariz., dated April 15, 2010, which includes detainees from as far away as Afghanistan, Armenia, Bosnia, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Botswana, Turkey and many other countries.
Based on U.S. Border Patrol statistics, there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in fiscal year 2003; 44, 614 in fiscal year 2004; 165,178 in fiscal year 2005; and 108,025 in fiscal year 2006. Most were caught along the U.S. Southwest border.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2008 Yearbook of Immigration Studies, from the Office of Immigration Statistics, federal law enforcement agencies detained 791,568 deportable aliens in fiscal year 2008 – and 5,506 of them were from 14 “special-interest countries.”
The State Department lists the following as “special-interest countries”: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
The following “special-interest countries” are listed as sponsors of terror: Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran.
The aliens were apprehended “at the borders of the United States, in the interior of the country and at designated sites outside of the United States.” The 2008 yearbook lists 791,568 deportable aliens by country (Page 97). Some include:
Saudi Arabia: 71
According to the Government Accountability Office, “The Border Patrol reported that in fiscal year 2008, checkpoints encountered 530 aliens from special-interest countries.”
‘Ever-present threat of terrorist infiltration’
Warning of an “ever-present threat of terrorist infiltration over the Southwest border,” the congressional report notes:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations have revealed that aliens were smuggled from the Middle East to staging areas in Central and South America, before being smuggled illegally into the United States.
- Members of Hezbollah have already entered the United States across the Southwest border.
- U.S. military and intelligence officials believe that Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. The Venezuelan government is issuing identity documents that could subsequently be used to obtain a U.S. visa and enter the country.
The Texas border – specifically the McAllen area – outpaces the rest of the nation in OTMs and aliens from “special-interest countries.”
From Sept. 11, 2001, to 2006, the Department of Homeland Security reported a 41 percent increase in arrests along the Texas/Mexico border of “special-interest aliens” – including aliens from Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Cuba, Brazil, Ecuador, China, Russia, Yemen, Albania, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan – all apprehended in the South Texas region alone.
U.S. immigration authorities have discovered items along the banks of the Rio Grande River that suggest ties to terrorist organizations. In 2006, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez of Zapata County, Texas, reported that officials found Iranian currency in the same area.
Also, a jacket found in Jim Hogg County, Texas, was covered in patches from countries where al-Qaida is known to operate. The patches include an Arabic military badge and one that illustrates an airplane flying into a tower. Another one features a depiction of a lion’s head with wings and a parachute. The Arab insignia reads “martyr,” “way to eternal life” or “way to immortality.”
Patches found along Texas-Mexico border. Patch with Arab insignia on left reads “martyr,” “way to enternal life” or “way to immortality.” Badge on right features illustration of airplane about to collide with a tower. (photos from 2006 congressional report)
‘One way or another, they’re all connected’
“Islamic radical groups that support Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamiya Al Gamat are all active in Latin America,” the 2006 congressional report states. “These groups generate funds through money laundering, drug trafficking and arms deals, making millions of dollars every year via their multiple illicit activities. These cells reach back to the Middle East and extend to this hemisphere the sophisticates global support structure of international terrorism.”
In May 2001, just months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a former Mexican national security adviser and U.N. ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, warned, “Spanish and Islamic terrorist groups are using Mexico as a refuge.”
The 39-page report notes members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already entered the U.S. by way of the Southwest border.
In 2002, authorities arrested Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a café owner in Tijuana, Mexico, for smuggling more than 200 Lebanese people into the U.S., including several believed to have ties to Hezbollah.
Also, in March 2005, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, an illegal alien who had been smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border after bribing a Mexican consular official in Beirut for a visa, pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Kourani, brother of the Hezbollah chief of military operations in southern Lebanon, lived in Dearborn, Mich., while he solicited funds for Hezbollah terrorists.
Hezbollah relies on “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels,” Michael Braun, retired assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Washington Times last year. “They work together. They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected. ”
He added, “They’ll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling].”
In 2006, Colombia’s acting attorney general, Jorge Armando Otalora, announced authorities had dismantled a ring that had been producing fake passports to help illegal aliens enter the United States. Colombian officials said the gang was tied to al-Qaida and Hamas militants and that it had supplied the false passports to citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries. However, the U.S. Justice Department denied those allegations, saying the gang had connections to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said, “We are not alleging any connections to any terror organization other than the FARC.”
As WND reported in 2007, President Bush’s top intelligence aide confirmed that Iraqi terrorists were captured coming into the United States from Mexico.
Just this week, Houston’s KHOU-TV 11 reported Homeland Security warned Houston, Texas, police and Harris County Sheriff’s deputies that a suspected terrorist may be traveling through the U.S. through Mexico. Mohamed Ali is a suspected member of the terrorist group Al Shabaab, a group based in Somalia with ties to the Somali attacks portrayed in the movie “Blackhawk Down.”
Only months ago, Al Shabaab announced its allegiance to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.
KHOU-TV’s chilling report can be seen below:
Likewise, the station reported, a federal indictment was filed in San Antonio against a Somali man two weeks ago. It alleges Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane led a “large-scale smuggling enterprise,” moving east Africans into the U.S., including members of a terrorist group called AIAI. Dhakane is also suspected of recruiting people to help create a Taliban regime.
Shocking likelihood of terrorist infiltration
A 2009 academic study by the Society for Risk Analysis, titled “Analyzing the Homeland Security of the U.S.-Mexico Border,” used a mathematical model to predict the likelihood of terrorist infiltration across the border with Mexico.
Two researcher from Stanford University and a third from George Mason University concluded that chances of OTM terrorists entering the U.S. across the southern border are quite high.
According to one calculation, based on assumptions about the extent of border screening and other aspects of domestic interior enforcement, the probability of an OTM terrorist crossing into the United States was 97.3 percent.
A 2005 Congressional Research Service report for Congress warned, “Terrorists and terrorist organizations could leverage these illicit networks to smuggle a person or weapon of mass destruction into the United States, while the large number of aliens attempting to enter the country illegally could potentially provide cover for the terrorists.”
Aliens from the Middle East and other parts of the globe are said to travel to South America first, where they learn to speak Spanish. Then they continue up through Mexico and join other illegal aliens as they cross the border – mostly undetected.
According to the 2006 congressional report, federal law-enforcement agencies estimate that only 10 to 30 percent of illegal aliens are actually caught – meaning an estimated 70 to 90 percent enter the U.S. undetected.
“While many illegal aliens cross the border searching for employment, not all illegal aliens are crossing into the United States to find work,” the report states. “Law enforcement has stated that some individuals come across the border because they have been forced to leave their home countries due to their criminal activity. These dangerous criminals are fleeing the law in other countries and seeking refuge in the United States.”