Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Of all the legitimate reasons a majority of Americans support U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to “build a wall” along the U.S./Mexican border, perhaps the most important is least known: Islamic terrorists, including ISIS operatives, are trying to use the porous border as a way to smuggle WMDs into the U.S. and launch terror attacks that would make 9/11 seem like child’s play.
Recently, “One of the American men accused in Minnesota of trying to join the Islamic State group wanted to open up routes from Syria to the U.S. through Mexico... Guled Ali Omar told the ISIS members about the route so that it could be used to send members to America to carry out terrorist attacks, prosecutors alleged in a document.”
But ISIS didn’t need to be “told” by Ali “about the route.” Nearly a year earlier, the Islamic State explored options on how it could smuggle a WMD “into the U.S. through Mexico by using existing trafficking networks in Latin America.” Consider the following (currently) hypothetical scenario outlined in an article published by the Islamic State’s magazine Dabiq last May (issue #9):
Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table. The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah [province] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region…. The weapon is then transported over land until it makes it to Libya, where the mujāhidīn [jihadis] move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Columbia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible. The nuke and accompanying mujāhidīn arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States. From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they’re mingling with another 12 million ‘illegal’ aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car.
If not a nuke, “a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive,” which is easily manufactured, could be smuggled, explained the ISIS publication.
Such thinking is hardly new. Back in 2009, a Kuwaiti cleric explained how easy it would be to murder countless Americans by crossing through the Mexican border:
Four pounds of anthrax — in a suitcase this big — carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there. What a horrifying idea; 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on. One person, with the courage to carry 4 pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this ‘confetti’ all over them, and then we’ll do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real celebration.
Hypotheticals aside, ISIS and other Islamic terrorists are known to be based in and coming from Mexico. In August 2014, Judicial Watch reported that ISIS was “operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices.” And in April 2015, ISIS was exposed operating in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua—a mere eight miles from the U.S.
In October 2014, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, said, “I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.”
Homeland Security emphatically denied Hunter’s claims, called them “categorically false,” and added that “no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.” However, days later it was confirmed that “4 ISIS Terrorists” were arrested crossing the border into Texas.
On September 20, 2015, “U.S. Border Patrol nabbed two Pakistani men with ties to terrorism at the U.S.-Mexico border…. Both men … took advantage of smuggling networks or other routes increasingly used by Central American illegal immigrants to sneak into the U.S.”
This is uncomfortably reminiscent of the “hypothetical” scenario outlined in the aforementioned ISIS magazine: after naming Pakistan as the nation to acquire nukes from—and the two men arrested for “ties to terrorism” were from Pakistan—the Dabiq excerpt explained: “The nuke and accompanying mujahidin… are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States. From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel.”
On December 2, 2015, “A Middle Eastern woman was caught surveilling a U.S. port of entry on the Mexican border holding a sketchbook with Arabic writing and drawings of the facility and its security system.” Around the same time, “five young Middle Eastern men were apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in Amado, an Arizona town situated about 30 miles from the Mexican border. Two of the men were carrying stainless steel cylinders in backpacks...”
Far from being reassuring, all these arrests ultimately indicate that Islamic terrorists are crossing the border into the U.S. For every illegal caught crossing, how many pass? One estimate says that at best only half of those illegally crossing the border are ever apprehended. That would seem to suggest that, for every one ISIS supporter or sympathizer that gets caught—and as seen, many already have been—another quietly slips through. Under Obama’s tenure alone, 2.5 million illegals have crossed the border. How many of these are ISIS operatives/sympathizers? Nor can border guards be especially alert for Islamic terrorists as many Arabs and Middle Easterners easily blend in with native Mexicans.
Three facts are undisputed: 1) ISIS and other terrorist groups see Mexico as a launching pad for acts of terror in the U.S.; 2) ISIS and other terrorist groups have bases of operations in Mexico; 3) members of ISIS and other terrorist groups have been caught trying to enter through the border.
In other words, it’s a matter of time. As Rep. Duncan Hunter once put it:
If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border. It’s that simple. ISIS doesn’t have a navy, they don’t have an air force, they don’t have nuclear weapons. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming in through the southern border—which they already have.
However, just as before 9/11—when U.S. leadership had received ample warnings of a spectacular terrorist attack targeting the U.S.—this problem will likely be ignored till a spectacular attack launched through the border occurs. Then, it will be more of the usual from big media and politicians: shock and amazement, handwringing, and appeals against “Islamophobia.”
The idea of securing the U.S.-Mexico border—including by possibly “building a wall,” or electronic fence which has worked brilliantly in Israel—is much more urgent than most know.