Israel faced a stunning new challenge from its age-old Islamic enemies in last summer's Gaza war, one that, if successful, would have led to unspeakable human carnage.
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It's the same challenge an IDF officer and author of a new book says America will soon be facing and is not nearly as prepared to repel.
Hamas' attack strategy in July 2014 went beyond the standard rocket barrage on Israeli cities. A brazen plan to send hundreds of heavily armed terrorists through tunnels in Gaza up into Israel's population centers almost succeeded, says Capt. Dan Gordon, veteran of six wars and member of the Israeli Defense Forces' advanced sniper team.
"I've been in six Middle Eastern wars, including the one last summer in Israel," says Gordon, who has a home in Arizona, where, when he's not fighting wars, he works as a screenwriter for Hollywood productions and recently completed a new book, "Day of the Dead Book One: Gaza."
He has an upcoming sequel "Day of the Dead Book Two: America."
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In that sequel, he presents a chilling message for America that he hopes will be taken as more than a mere work of fiction.
'Like zombies coming up out of the ground'
"That war (in Gaza) ushered in something that was really the most terrifying thing I'd ever seen in my life, and that is terrorist attack tunnels that went underneath the recognized 1948 borders of Israel from Gaza…and all of a sudden it was like Night of the Living Dead," he said in a recent Fox News interview. "Your lawn opens up, and like zombies coming up out of the ground, a dozen terrorists armed with RPGs, machine guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, hand-grenades, tranquilizer shots and handcuffs, meant to take women and children hostage, kill and maim as many as possible and then drag others back into Gaza as hostages."
Watch Judge Jeanine's interview with Capt. Dan Gordon below:
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The plot was foiled by alert Israeli military watchmen who monitor the border 24/7 with the help of drones and other aerial assets.
Gordon told WND the Middle East often serves as a "research and development lab" for terrorist innovations. What starts there often spreads to the rest of the world.
Sure enough, a little online research will turn up articles about the "tunnel warfare" strategy now being deployed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and various Islamist groups in North Africa.
The proliferation of tunnel warfare in the Middle East is discussed at length in a recent article at DefenseOne.com.
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Daniel Rubenstein's article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs describes in depth the Hamas plot to bring more than 200 terrorists up from Gaza tunnels into Israeli cities and how dangerously close they came to pulling it off.
ISIS operatives are likely already inside America, but nobody knows how many, where, or in what capacity.
"Did they come in from tunnels? I doubt it, because they don't need to, our border is so porous, and they could easily come across the southern border as thousands of people do every day," Gordon said. "And they could have Western passports from a country which requires no visa. My guess is there are ISIS fighters in the country doing advance scouting, studying all the preliminary things a professional terror attack takes into account, because a professional terrorist attack takes months to set up."
Gordon gets inside the mind of a terrorist like no other author since Tom Clancy.
"You surveil the target, you look for ingress and egress routes, you study response times, you look at what you plan to do after the first attack," he said. "Do you set off a bomb and then detonate another after the first responders arrive? Or, do you launch a second attack simultaneously on another side of town? So my guess is there is advance scouts planning all this as we speak."
But when it comes time to launch the big attack, that's when the tunnels come into play.
ISIS's job will be made easier by the fact that an established drug-smuggling tunnel system into the U.S. from Mexico already exists.
"ISIS has billions of dollars. They're the richest terror organization in the history of the world. They don’t' have to dig a tunnel they just have to rent one," Gordon told WND. "Money is a language the drug cartels understand. There are tunnels that go from Tijuana, Mexico, into San Diego. We have found other tunnels that go from Mexico into southern Arizona, and from Mexico into portions of El Paso, Texas, and one has to assume there are tunnels we don't know about."
Lone wolves could be decoy
The FBI says it has active ISIS investigations in all 50 states, even Alaska, presumably looking into Americans and immigrants who might carry out "lone wolf" attacks based on cellphone conversations and social-media chatter.
But Gordon doesn't believe ISIS will be satisfied with lone wolf attacks on U.S. citizens. He believes they are planning something much bigger, something more befitting of their image as the largest, wealthiest, most brutal terrorist organization on the planet.
Gordon says his novels, the second of which is being adapted for the big screen, are based upon his 40 years of experience fighting Islamic terrorists.
"Hamas started the last war by kidnapping and murdering three teenage boys in the West Bank," Gordon said. "All of Israel's eyes were on the search for those boys in the West Bank. That was sleight of hand because what they were readying was a mass attack coming out of Gaza tunnels."
Any "lone wolf" attacks on America could similarly be meant to distract and divert attention from the bigger target.
Gordon believes the U.S. is far more vulnerable than Israel to a tunnel attack.
"I guarantee ISIS had a presence in Gaza during last summer's war, and I guarantee they studied very, very carefully Hamas's use of the terror tunnels, why they failed, how they might have succeeded, and they have applied all those lessons to the U.S.," he said.
"In the U.S. they have two things going for them to make it easier to pull off, number one they don't have to dig any tunnels, the tunnels are already here, and we know that various Islamic terror organizations have established relationships with the Mexican cartels. Hezbollah for one," he said. "And don't think for a minute that because they are Shiite they wouldn't cooperate with the Sunni ISIS."
'You must respect your enemy'
The other concern is lack of monitoring on the U.S.-Mexican border.
"In Israel, is on the Israeli side of the border, there were three things, a system of observation posts that monitor every square inch on the ground, and manned monitors, and a unit of people with Asperger's because they can pay tremendous attention to details that most people can't," Gordon said. "Then we have aerial assets in the air 24 hours a day, everything from drones and hellfire missiles to F-15s, and we have elite units of the Israeli army locked, loaded and ready to go 24 hours a day.
"So every time Hamas tried to do a terrorist tunnel attack, and they tried six times, those plans were foiled by members of the Israeli armed forces. Some of those soldiers' families literally lived in the communities that were going to be attacked. For Israel we're not defending Afghanistan, we're defending our homes."
Compare that ultra-tight security to the situation on the ground along the vast, largely unpatrolled U.S.-Mexican border and one can see where Gordon's hypothetical plot line starts to sound like reality waiting to happen.
There are skeptics who will dismiss his scenario as great fodder for high-drama fiction but not to be taken seriously as a matter of national security. After all, this is America we're talking about, home of the most potent military force on earth.
What does he say to those skeptics?
"The worst thing that one could ever do is underestimate or have contempt for your enemy. You have to have tremendous respect for your enemy in order to fight them effectively and that concerns me with this (Obama) administration," Gordon said. "They certainly have expressed a different attitude in public and I can only assume they have the same attitude in private."
The problems that presents at a security level are difficult to overstate, he said.
"If you look at the U.S. monitoring of the border, it's sporadic at best, we don't have aerial assets, and we don't have American military deployed on the border," Gordon said. "So, you have 500 to 1,000 fighters who could easily come up out of a tunnel and get in a truck. And understand people are used to seeing trucks go in and go out of these areas, there's nothing uncommon about it, because the smugglers are smuggling large amounts of drugs and they want people to be used to seeing trucks going in and out. They could just as easily smuggle ISIS fighters."
ISIS vs. the San Diego Police?
Once they're in the trucks with their weapons, they're a catastrophe on the way to any number of targets. San Diego screams for their attention, but it could be any city.
"If you put ISIS against the San Diego Police Department I think that fight goes to ISIS," Gordon said. "The time it would take to mobilize the Marines, let's say, at Camp Pendleton or the Navy Seals at Coronado Island, it would be at the earliest a matter of hours. It simply takes time to get a unit locked and loaded and ready to deploy, and in that time ISIS terrorists could kidnap, murder and maim thousands of people. That is the scenario of the book and it is chilling. My feeling is the administration is either has its head buried in the sand or placed in an orifice that sees zero daylight."
Gordon's take on the Obama administration is that it is blinded by its ideology.
"It's only my opinion, but I think it's an informed opinion: This is an administration that tends to view the world as it wants to see it rather than how it is, and is very ideological and when the facts go against their worldview they tend to go with the policy that represents their worldview," he said. "We're now at the one-year mark of the Islamic State caliphate. The president he would degrade and destroy ISIS. I would challenge anyone to say that ISIS has been either degraded or destroyed. They say they've killed 10,000 operatives. If that's true, whoopy. They've gained 30,000 recruits from around the world."
Once the 500 to 1,000 ISIS fighters are inside the U.S., what type of attack could they be expected to launch?
They could use improvised explosive devices or IEDs to blow up soft targets such as shopping malls or sports stadiums. ISIS has deployed this technique masterfully in Syria and Iraq, placing the IEDs underground beneath the targeted buildings.
Watch video as three tunnel bombs explode simultaneously in Syria earlier this year:
Gordon said that tactic is less likely to take place in the U.S. because new tunnels would have to be dug underneath buildings. He believes ISIS is more likely to carry out a series of truck-bombings.
"In Ramadi they captured the American MRAPs, the most heavily armored transport vehicles we have in the U.S. arsenal and they converted those to set off truck bombs similar to what Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma City, with fertilizer and diesel fuel," Gordon said.
"Say you set off six of those in San Diego," he added. "Each site has 200 to 300 dead and hundreds wounded. You've now stretched your first responders to the absolute breaking point, and that now opens up the opportunity for them to attack at another location. If I were planning the offensive that's exactly how I would do it. And the ground forces just shoot people up while all the responders are at the bomb sites."
What would Obama do?
When Israel foiled the tunnel attacks, it immediately invaded Gaza and destroyed the tunnels. What would Obama do in a similar situation?
"Even if he knew where the tunnels were is there anyone who could imagine this administration invading Mexico?" Gordon said. "The next best thing you do is notify the government of Mexico but they are not in control of that area.
"If you're the U.S. you do nothing. You inform the Mexican government and ask, 'could you please arrest and incarcerate these terrorists? But I don't think you would get the outcome you would be looking for."
Looking at the San Diego area, ISIS would have its choice of plum targets. Gordon said the U.S. has about half of the Pacific Fleet anchored there, and half of the Navy Seal force is based at Coronado Island.
"Now because of current U.S. policy no servicemen can carry arms on base. That's how a fat Army major named Nidal Hasan was able to take out 13 people at Fort Hood (in 2009)," Gordon said.
"You also think about any sports arena that has 16,000 or more people. They'd have a field day."
The propaganda victory for ISIS would be huge.
"That is the reason ISIS has got to do something like this. Not want to, got to, because ISIS has to position itself as the number-one terrorist organization in the world," Gordon said. "They are the caliphate, anointed by Muhammad and Allah. In order to lay claim to that you have got to strike at the Great Satan in a way that would dwarf 9/11. Think of a boxer who won't defend his title. He has no credibility. They have to do this. They don't have a choice. You can't be a caliphate unless you strike at the Great Satan and do it in a way that dwarfs 9/11."
"Day of the Dead Book One: Gaza" is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.