News and Commentary

Over 30,000 Migrants From Terrorist Countries Entered U.S. In 2015

According to a U.S. South Command intelligence report, over 30,000 of the 331,000 migrants entering the southwestern border between the United States and Mexico in 2015 came from “countries of terrorist concern.”

Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, told The Washington Free Beacon:

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. 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. 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.

Garcia asserted that Sunni extremists, aided by a known alien smuggling network in Latin America that was not identified by Southcom, are entering the United States by taking advantage of commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies from some of their countries of origin.

The list of countries of terrorist concern includes 34 nations in the Middle East, Africa, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia, among which are Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Eritrea, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

One American security official of the Southcom report said bluntly, “This makes the case for Trump’s wall. These guys are doing whatever they want to get in the country.”

Adm. Kurt Tidd, Southcom’s commander, admitted that the agency’s lack of information is hindering its efforts to heighten security, saying, “An element that has been long recognized is that our ability to track people moving through transportation systems is an area that we must continue to devote efforts on, and the ease with which human traffickers are able to use our transportation systems to move people through the networks relatively undetected should give us all concern,” Tidd said.

Joel Vargas, head of Contingent Security Services and a consultant to law enforcement agencies, cautioned that no evidence exists that Sunni extremists are aligning with alien smugglers, but acknowledged, “existing smuggling networks from Central America are increasing their access … We have intercepted immigrants coming from Asia but we have been unable to determine if they are extremists. Our Sunni illegal migration coming from [Latin America] is very small. On the other hand, they can use the networks set up by the Shia.”

Vargas created a report for the International Airport, Seaport and Transport Police that asserted Hezbollah is connected to Latin American through overseas Lebanese expatriates. In the report, he stated, “Hezbollah’s current goals appear to be focused on accruing resources rather than conducting offensive operations, however the group’s growing capabilities are still a clear threat to regional U.S. interests. Iran’s involvement in Latin America is also increasing, and Hezbollah will likely be able to use these budding political and economic ties as cover for its operations.”

When queried as to how Sunni extremists could utilize Hezbollah’s networks in Latin America to enter the United States, Vargas answered, “That is a workable situation. If they disclose they are ISIL or any other group, I doubt that even the Shias will help out. Even [drug] cartels are killing anyone who appears extremist. It is bad for their business,” noting Guatemala is the home of an alien smuggling operation that can transport foreign nationals into the United States from Africa and other ares of terrorist concern,

In June, The Washington Times reported that an alien smuggling network in Brazil helped at least one dozen illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern states try to enter the United States; the group included Palestinians, Pakistanis, and an Afghan man with ties to the Taliban who was part of a terror plot.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in September 2015, “As they descend on Europe, one of the obvious issues that we worry about, and in turn as we bring refugees into this country, is exactly what’s their background? We don’t obviously put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees … That is a huge concern of ours.”

Clapper doubled down in February, telling a Senate hearing in February that Islamic State terrorists would pose as immigrants to enter the United States, stating, “That’s one technique they’ve used is taking advantage of the torrent of migrants to insert operatives into that flow. 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.”