Cross posted from The Virtuous Republic
Mike McConnell, National Intelligence Director, admitted the other day that Iraqi terrorists have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. Some have been caught, others haven’t. To me, it just proves that our vast unguarded southern border is a national security nightmare that has been ignored for too long.
President Bush’s top intelligence aide has confirmed that Iraqi terrorists have been captured coming into the United States from Mexico.
The confirmation comes from National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who talked about the situation in an interview with the El Paso Times recently.
“Coming up through the Mexican border is a path,” McConnell said. “Now, are they doing it in great numbers? No, because we’re finding them and we’re identifying them and we’ve got watch lists and we’re keeping them at bay.”
But, he said, “There are numerous situations where people are alive today because we caught them (terrorists).”
Intelligence officials say the numbers and details of such situations are classified, but McConnell pointed as an example to Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, who entered the United States through Tijuana, Mexico, in 2001, and later pleaded guilty to helping raise money for Hezbollah, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
The goal, McConnell said, is for terrorists to gain admittance to the United States, and then produce “mass casualties.”
“You’ve got committed leadership. You’ve got a place to train. They’ve got trainers, and they’ve got recruits,” McConnell told the newspaper. “The key now is getting recruits in. So if your key is getting recruits in, how would you do that?”
McConnell’s office did reveal some numbers, during fiscal 2006, there were 14 Iraqi nationals caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally, while so far in 2007, that number is 16.
“Now some we caught, some we didn’t,” McConnell told the newspaper. “The ones that get in – what are they going to do? They’re going to write home. So it’s not rocket science; word will move around.”
Also revealed was that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 60 Iraqis crossing the nation’s southwestern border in 2006 who were seeking asylum in the U.S., while that number so far in 2007 is 178.
The Times report said a U.S. intelligence analyst said there’s been evidence that human smugglers, or coyotes, are telling Iraqis to ask for amnesty if they are caught.
The typical scenario is this: Forged documents are used to get an Iraqi into a country in South or Central America. Since travel from country to country is allowed without vises in many locations there, they work their way north to the U.S. border.
McConnell told the newspaper the numbers are classified, but there have been a relatively small number of people with known links to terrorist groups who have been caught at that point.
Kourani, for example, apparently paid a Mexican Consulate official in Lebanon $3,000 for a Mexican visa and then was smuggled into the United States in the trunk of a car.
He was sentenced to more than four years in prison after admitting he helped raise funds for Hezbollah.
Read the rest here….
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