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Soldier of Fortune: The Terrorist Highway
The Terrorist Highway

 
 
Soldier of Fortune Magazine


This article is courtesy of Soldier of Fortune, a military/adventure publication. The magazine specializes in first-person reporting from armed conflicts around the globe, with emphasis on current military activities, developments, special units, weapons, tactics, politics and history. Its writers include experienced professionals, including former military and frequent Soldier of Fortune readers.

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When Is a Border Not a Border? When Terrorists Cross Anytime They Want To!

By Martin Brass
Soldier of Fortune Magazine

Terror attacks were down last year, but attacks on US citizens increased dramatically, even excluding Iraq. Is the US mainland prepared? Hardly! Just ahead of me, in line for a security check, the stern middle-aged woman security guard required a short-haired, blonde teenager, dressed in scanty clothes so skin-tight it would have been impossible to conceal a stick of gum, to take off her floppy, paper-thin thong sandals and step through an additional security check. If those sandals had been made of C-4, they wouldn't have blown her nose.

Pathetic! Are these supposed to be real security measures, or are passengers being inconvenienced by a silly show, which provides no real security, but gives the false impression of a mighty effort to protect us from terrorists?

I was reminded of the last time SOF publisher Robert Brown and I had dinner with the late General Joe Foss, the legendary WWII combat pilot who went on to became Governor of South Dakota and President of the NRA. General Foss was a burly white-haired giant who overpowered anyone in his presence. He was the personification of that glorious era of great heroes who had gusto for anything American.

Throwing Star

At our dinner meeting, after 9-11, he was as agitated as I had ever seen him, bellowing outrage in his customary boisterous manner and deep, thunderous voice, "I was one of those who helped make this country safe for those nitwit pipsqueaks at the airport, and they practically made me strip and miss my flight."

He recalled his "boys," of whom he often spoke, and whose faces were forever imprinted on his mind. They had given their lives in battle for our freedoms. One of the security "geniuses" had given him lots of grief because he was convinced the Medal of Honor the aged General had in his pocket was a martial arts "throwing star."

"While the law-abiding citizen is being hassled," the General said," the enemy plows into our most visible targets." Rote security checks by unskilled agents ordered to harass all alike, regardless of age, criminal background, infirmity, race, or otherwise, he said, were un-American. Law-abiding citizens' freedoms were violated while the terrorists could outsmart "stupid" procedures.

Illegal immigration is out of hand, because of this emphasis on political correctness and nondiscrimination, combined with insufficient screening and intelligence. Further, even with legal immigration there is little or no follow-up surveillance to weed out the terrorists who slip through our highly porous net. Immigration is on an upsurge since the end of the Cold War, when open doors allowed floods of migrants and human traffickers.

Traffickers and Terrorists

In 2002, an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) official told Congress, "Information available to the INS indicates terrorist organizations often use human smuggling operations to move around the globe." An unnamed former Mexican official said, "Spanish and Islamic terrorist groups are using Mexico as a refuge."

Documented illegal immigration more than doubled in the last decade, growing, by conservative counts, from 3.5 million in 1990 to 8 million in 2000. Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, estimates that at least 13 million will immigrate to the United States in this decade.

A 2002 census showed that at least 115,000 illegal aliens from the Middle East are in the United States, 24,000 of whom are from Israel. Forty thousand illegal aliens come from Pakistan. Those figures don't include Algeria and Egypt and other North African countries, for unexplained reasons.

6000 Fugitives

Six thousand Middle Easterners, fugitives from deportation orders, roam the country. Among them was international crime ringleader Iraqi George Tajirian, who charged up to $15,000 a head for trafficking a thousand illegal immigrants, some known to have ties with terrorist organizations, reports Michelle Malkin in Insight.

Two Egyptians were arrested for smuggling illegals on flights to Brazil, then Guatemala, through Mexico, to the United States. Mohammed Hussein Assadi was convicted of smuggling Iraqis through Cali, Colombia, Ecuador and other South American cities. Assadi supplied stolen and altered European passports and airfare for $8,000 per person.

"Market of Passports" vendors in Northern Iraq sell forged documents for travel through Turkey, to Ecuador, to Colombia, to the United States. The illegals are instructed to destroy the fake documents before entry into the U.S., and surrender to U.S. immigration officials without disclosing their nationalities. The U.S. "catch and release" policy then allows them to flee pending deportation proceedings.

Camarota says "It is difficult to overstate the implications of this new report for the security of our nation. While the vast majority of illegals from the Middle East are not terrorists, the fact that tens of thousands of people from that region--and millions more from the rest of the world--can settle in the U.S. illegally means that terrorists who wish to do so face few obstacles. We cannot protect ourselves from terrorism without dealing with illegal immigration."

The Clinton Administration did not give this problem the attention it obviously needed.

While Janet Reno and intelligence agencies were focusing on organized U.S. militia groups they had demonized, incinerating an eccentric Texas cult--killing women and children--and on pounding the hell out of Serbia, simultaneously empowering the Taliban-trained terrorist KLA factions in the Balkans, terrorist operatives were planning their attacks and picking their targets in the U.S..

United Sodom of America

Meanwhile, the sensationalist American media's obsession with broadcasting the Monica Lewinsky scandal all over the world gave the Islamic extremist terrorists' sick minds the ammunition they needed as they conspired to shock the world by attacking the "immoral, depraved," "United Sodom of America."

Terrorists sneaked in and out of Western, technologically advanced and immigration lax U.S. and Western Europe. The terrorist operators learned to navigate undetected in and out of U.S. borders, taunting U.S. intelligence. They boldly targeted U.S. targets.

In 1993, one of the World Trade Center bombers was illegal alien Mohammed Salameh. In 1997, Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, illegal alien, conspired to bomb the New York subway system. Three thousand, seven hundred U.S. consular officers throughout the world issue visas without many guidelines. Eighty percent of 8 million visa applications are approved every year. The State Department manual used by consular officials states that "mere membership" in a recognized terrorist group, or even "advocacy of terrorism," does not automatically disqualify a person from entering the U.S., according to the Phyllis Schlafly Report.

Associate Chief, Veteran Border Patrol official J. William Carter (Ret.) says, "The 1986 amnesty law perpetuated document fraud. Counterfeiters went wild. If an undocumented worker wanted to travel to Los Angeles or Chicago from Tijuana, the alien smuggler would charge $1,500 to $5,000, including travel documents, because fradulent documents were so readily available. Sometimes a document package would be sold for as little as $25.

Not only do terrorist operatives take advantage of illegal immigration, many have learned how to maneuver through the system after having immigrated legally, and are allowed to roam free without proper intelligence surveillance.

The Center for Immigration Studies concluded that lax immigration enforcement was partially responsible for attacks within the United States:

"By not adequately policing the borders; by not enforcing time limits on visas and the ban on hiring illegals; by allowing illegals to attend college, open bank accounts, and obtain driver's licenses with little difficulty and by not even ensuring that those who are ordered deported actually go home, it is inevitable that millions of illegal aliens will settle in the U.S., including tens of thousands from the primary terrorist-sending countries"(Worldnetdaily)

Most of the 9-11 terrorists had Florida and Virginia or other driver's licenses or ID cards. Some of these were obtained without citizenship or proper residence in the place that issued the documents. Kingpin Mohammad Atta, while exploiting the system, cunningly changed his short term tourist visa to a longer term student one, enabling him to remain legally in the United States long enough to attend flight school, and to travel in and out of the United States to meet with al-Qaeda co-conspirators [C.I.S.].

Green Cards

Eleven of 48 terrorists acting in the United States since 1993 had green cards, signifying permanant residency. Another, Mahmud Abouhalima had become a legal resident after lying about being an agricultural worker, allowing him to get a green card after the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty. His green card allowed him to travel to Afghanistan for training, then reenter the U.S., according to the C.I.S.

Sometimes an alert and determined citizen can force the system to work. Zacharias Moussaoui, was left out of the 9-11 action because observant instructors reported suspicious behavior at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Minnesota. Moussaoui did not want to learn how to take off or land, but wanted to know how to steer a 747 jumbo jet in flight.

The FBI was slow to act, by many accounts. Moussaoui was detained by the INS for violating his visa just one month before the fatal attacks in New York and Washington.

Another potential 9-11 hijacker, Al-Qahtani, was turned away by a U.S. immigration agent at Orlando International Airport in late August 2001, two senior law enforcement agents told AP. But 19 hijackers slipped through the cracks after years of conspiring.

Then Came 9-11

The 9-11 hijackings were the result of "a problem of the U.S. government allowing illegal aliens to roam freely in our country and of promiscuously issuing visas without proper certifications. It is also a problem of our government failing to enforce current immigration and visa laws, and failing to deport illegal aliens including those who overstay their visas.

Three of the hijackers were here illegally, and the other 16 were here legally, through sloppy visa checks and nonexistent follow-up procedures. At least 16 of the 19 hijackers fit in one or more of these categories," claims the Schlafly Report.

For two weeks before 9-11 the FBI was searching for one of the 9-11 terrorists who had met with a suspected USS Cole bomber. The hijacker's visa application read "Marriott, New York City," although he had never gone to any of the 10 Marriotts there.

"It's a Constitutional Crisis"

The immigration flood has reached constitutional crisis proportions, according to Thomas G. Tancredo (R-6th), with whom we met in Denver at the beginning of the research for this article. Tancredo was fired up about the threat that illegal immigration poses, and has been a high profile activist. He believes that Mexico is the base for terror cells and that terrorists flow over our unrestricted southern borders.

In Arizona, on a road north of the city of Douglas called the "Arab Road," Arabs or Middle Easterners, are charged $30,000 to be smuggled into the U.S., Tancredo claims [ParaPundit.com]. Immigration, Tancredo wrote "is balkanizing America to where upwards of 8 million people living here are so undecided about their loyalties that they claim dual citizenships. The problem is so urgent, that, "We must immediately gain control of our borders. This can be done with the use of technology ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic sensors to cameras and radar. This must be backed up with human resources -- including military support.

"The defense of the nation begins with the defense of the borders. We must identify and deport felons and potential terrorists among the millions of illegal immigrants. Civil libertarians have thrown up obstacles, forgetting that the citizens' right to protection of life and property is the FIRST civil liberty of a free people.

"Becoming an American citizen is not something you gain by crossing a border. It is something you acquire through education and adoption of a new loyalty to American institutions," he wrote.

The FBI has identified 1,000 Osama bin Laden sympathizers living in 30 cities in the United States, according to Justice Department sources. This number, ParaPundit.com points out, is a fraction of identified al-Qaeda sympathizers in country, and the statistics only "scratch the surface." Terrorists can escape wiretapping detection by using encrypted e-mail messages on the internet, and FBI foreign language capabilities are inadequate.

The Tijuana Ring

Last year a ringleader of a smuggling ring, Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Arab descent, was sentenced in the United States to one year for people smuggling. He returned to business as usual in Mexico where he was once more arrested. An accomplice, Imelda Ortiz Abdala, Arabic-Mexican, a 25 year Mexican foreign service veteran, was fired after 150 Mexican passports were stolen and two others issued improperly [Freerepublic.com].

Ortiz was in Beirut, Lebanon from May 1998 to October 2001, heading the Mexican consular section. She allegedly issued a Mexican visa to Alafani Sghir, a Shiite extremist. She was arrested in Mexico for aiding a smuggling ring trafficking Arab migrants through Mexico to the United States after Youseff Balaghi, one of the 80 to 100 migrants smuggled into the United States with stolen or forged passports, was admitted to a San Diego hospital, vomiting blood. He died a short time later.

Al-Qaeda held a meeting in Mexico in 2001 to make contacts with Venezuelan, Bolivian, Peruvian and Ecuadorian terrorists. Al-Qaeda operates in Latin America, and has ties to the Columbian FARC. Mexico's national security adviser Adolfo Aguilar admitted the presence of Islamic radicals in Mexico, who were identified by the media as being members of Hezbollah.

Border Badlands

I spoke with a New Mexico entrepreneur who voiced the concern of many of his Latino colleagues. The Latinos, Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghanis, who have many common facial features, some of whom are al-Qaeda or other terrorist group operatives, can easily mix in together unnoticed. The problem is that many of the Latinos and other groups have no desire to assimilate. They create their own reality and culture, including rival drug trafficking gangs, without loyalty to America. Terrorists can easily be smuggled in or even allowed to operate within their enclaves. Although Mexican officials do cooperate with their U.S. counterparts, the Mexican government is largely helpless in combating the violence of the Mexican drug cartels, and corrupt customs and police officials.

One task force source told WND that a spectacular Mexico-based attack is "not anymore a question of if, but rather of when and where." Guadalajara and Tijuana are harboring anti-American terror cells. Al-Qaeda and other allied organizations are expanding operations in Latin America, establishing both legitimate and criminal enterprises to fund future operations.

Jihadists and Drug Dealers

Ruthless youth gangs including the Mara-18 and Salvatrucha from Honduras and Guatemala are operating in Chiapas state and as far north as Tijuana. Those with ties to radical Islamic Jihadists and drug dealers filter in from Central America, preying on illegal immigrants. Terrorists are making serious preparations to infiltrate the U.S.-Mexico borders. There are threats on NASA's Johnson Space Center, the George Bush International Airport, and industrial oil and energy targets, according to WND.

Our borders have become outlaw country. Human traffickers charge desperate or suspect immigrants enormous fees. Drug gangs have married up with human traffickers to exploit this multi-million dollar trade. Mexican, U.S., Canadian and other consulate, customs and enforcement officials have cashed in on the profits.

Homeless scorch in the heat and drown in the rivers as they try to reach the Promised Land. Sex slave trade traffickers are making bundles of cash. And many border guards are dying.

Dr. Martin Brass is an International Lawyer and longtime contributor to SOF.

[Have an opinion on this article? Check in at the Soldier of Fortune Discussion Forum.]

2004 Soldier of Fortune Magazine. All rights reserved. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.
 



 



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