More than 30,000 people from “countries of terrorist concern” illegally entered the United States across the southern border with Mexico in 2015, says a U.S. Southern Command intelligence report.
National security officials in Washington are now increasingly concerned ISIS may be working to get jihadists into the U.S. using Latin American smuggling networks.
“Sunni extremists are infiltrating the United States with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing U.S. borders with ease,” reports veteran national security correspondent Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon. “The Command’s J-2 intelligence directorate reported recently in internal channels that ‘special interest aliens’ are working with a known alien smuggling network in Latin America to reach the United States.
Excerpts from Gertz’s article:
Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, did not address the intelligence report directly but said Sunni terrorist infiltration is a security concern,.
“Networks that specialize in smuggling individuals from regions of terrorist concern, mainly from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Middle East, and East Africa, are indeed a concern for Southcom and other interagency security partners who support our country’s national security,” Garcia told the Washington Free Beacon.
“There are major hubs that serve as entry points into the region for migrants from those areas of concern attempting to enter the U.S. along our border with Mexico,” she said.
The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit, Garcia said.
“In 2015, we saw a total of 331,000 migrants enter the southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico, of that we estimate more than 30,000 of those were from countries of terrorist concern,” she said.
Another problem in dealing with migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia is a lack of information among the governments of the countries used by potential terrorists for transit.
The exploitation of alien smuggling networks by terrorists until recently had been dismissed by both American security officials and private security experts as largely an urban myth.
However, the Southcom intelligence report revealed that the threat of Islamist terror infiltration is no longer theoretical.
“This makes the case for Trump’s wall,” said one American security official of the Southcom report. “These guys are doing whatever they want to get in the country.”….
At least a dozen Middle Easterners reached the Western Hemisphere through this alien smuggling ring that facilitated travel to Mexico, the Times reported, quoting internal government documents.The aliens involved Palestinians, Pakistanis, and the Afghan man with ties to the Taliban.
Some of the aliens were stopped before entering the United States but others succeeded in crossing the U.S. border….
The cost of getting into the United States can reach $400 or more per person, and the illegal immigrants are provided with transportation, covert smuggling contacts along routes into the country, as well as instructions on how to illegally cross the U.S. border. The instructions in the past have included armed guides who ferry illegal aliens across U.S.-Mexico border rivers on inner tubes.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified during a Senate hearing in February that Islamic State terrorists would try to infiltrate the United State posing as immigrants.
“That’s one technique they’ve used is taking advantage of the torrent of migrants to insert operatives into that flow,” Clapper said. “As well, they also have available to them—and are pretty skilled at phony passports so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travelers as well.”