Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Article: Examining the Terrorist Threat from America's Southern Border By Scott Stewart

Collapse
X
Collapse

  • Article: Examining the Terrorist Threat from America's Southern Border By Scott Stewart

    Examining the Terrorist Threat from America's Southern Border

    by


    Stratfor

    On July 21, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was deploying 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border to help strengthen border security. The move is the latest in a chain of events involving the emigration of Central Americans that has become heavily publicized -- and politicized.

    Clearly, illegal immigration flows are shifting from Arizona and California to Texas. In fiscal year 2013 (all Border Patrol data is recorded by fiscal year), the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector surpassed Tucson as the leading sector for the number of apprehensions (154,453 in Rio Grande Valley versus 120,939 for Tucson). Also, between fiscal years 2011 and 2013, the number of Border Patrol determined "other than Mexicans" -- mostly Central Americans -- apprehended by the Rio Grande Valley sector increased by more than 360 percent, from 20,890 to 96,829. (By comparison, the Tucson sector apprehended 19,847 "other than Mexicans" in 2013.) Significantly, minors constituted a large percentage of the "other than Mexicans" apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley in 2013: 21,553 (compared to 9,070 in Tucson sector). However, the majority (84 percent) of those labeled Unaccompanied Alien Children by the Border Patrol are teenage minors and not younger children.

    Lost in all the media hype over this "border crisis" is the fact that in 2013 overall immigration was down significantly from historical levels. According to U.S. Border Patrol apprehension statistics, there were only 420,789 apprehensions in 2013 compared to 1,160,395 in 2004. In fact, from fiscal 1976 to 2010, apprehensions never dropped below 500,000. During that same period, the Border Patrol averaged 1,083,495 apprehensions per year compared to just 420,789 last year.

    Of course, apprehension statistics are not an accurate count of total immigration and do not account for those who cross without being caught, and the statistics are also slightly skewed by the fact that Unaccompanied Alien Minors are far more likely to surrender to authorities rather than attempt to avoid them. In 2011, the Border Patrol apprehended 4,059 unaccompanied children; by 2013 that number had reached 38,759. Year to date, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 46,000 unaccompanied children and estimates it will apprehend around 60,000 total in 2014. Still, overall, the Border Patrol will apprehend and process hundreds of thousands fewer people this year than it did each fiscal year from 1976 until 2010.

    This type of hype and politicization of the U.S.-Mexico border is not new. It is something that has surfaced at irregular intervals for years now, along with scaremongering using the boogeyman of terrorism, and it appears to be happening again.

    I've recently done a number of media interviews regarding immigration, and during several of these interviews, reporters have asked me the question: "Does the crisis on the border give terrorists an opportunity to sneak into the country?" While other border security analysts have told reporters that they believe terrorists would take advantage of the border crisis and that the cartels would be willing to work with terrorists for the right price, I disagree. I believe that an analysis of the history of plots directed against the U.S. homeland from overseas and an examination of the changes in the dynamics of transnational terrorism show such claims to be unfounded.

    No Link to the U.S.-Mexico Border

    As chaos has wracked Mexican towns just south of the U.S. border such as Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Juarez and Tijuana, there has been repeated speculation that al Qaeda could partner with some street gang or Mexican cartel to smuggle terrorist operatives or weapons into the United States to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack.

    For example, in 2005, rumors were frequently published on a popular web media outlet claiming that al Qaeda had smuggled several tactical nuclear devices into the United States with the help of the Salvadoran Mara Salvatrucha street gang. According to the rumors, al Qaeda was planning to launch a horrific surprise nuclear attack against several U.S. cities in what was termed "American Hiroshima." Clearly this never happened.

    But American fearmongers are not the only ones who can cause a panic. In a 2009 speech, radical Kuwaiti university professor Abdullah al-Nafisi talked about the possibility that jihadists could smuggle anthrax in a suitcase through a drug tunnel on the U.S.-Mexico border, a claim that sparked considerable concern because it came on the heels of other hyped-up anthrax threats.

    However, an examination of all jihadist plots since the first such attack in the United States -- the November 1990 assassination of the radical founder of the Jewish Defense League, Meir Kahane -- shows that none had any U.S.-Mexico border link. Indeed, as we've noted elsewhere, there have been more plots against the U.S. homeland that have involved the U.S.-Canada border, including the 1997 plot to bomb the New York Subway and the Millennium Bomb Plot. But by and large, most terrorists, including those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks, have entered the United States by flying directly to the country. There is not one jihadist attack or thwarted plot in which Mexican criminal organizations smuggled the operative into the United States.

    There was one bumbling plot by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in which Manssor Arbabsiar, a U.S. citizen born in Iran and residing in Texas, traveled to Mexico in an attempt to contract a team of Mexican cartel hit men to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Instead of Los Zetas, he encountered a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant and was set up for a sting. There is no evidence that an actual Mexican cartel leader would have accepted the money Arbabsiar offered for the assassination.

    Mexican criminal leaders have witnessed U.S. government operations against al Qaeda and the pressure that the U.S. government can put on an organization that has been involved in an attack on the U.S. homeland. Mexican organized crime bosses are businessmen, and even if they were morally willing to work with terrorists -- a questionable assumption -- working with a terrorist group would be bad for business. It is quite doubtful that Mexican crime bosses would risk their multibillion-dollar smuggling empires for a one-time payment from a terrorist group. It is also doubtful that an ideologically driven militant group like a jihadist organization would trust a Mexican criminal organization with its weapons and personnel.

    Changes in Terrorist Dynamics

    Another factor to consider is the changes in the way militant groups have operated against the United States since 9/11. Because of increased counterterrorism operations and changes in immigration policies intended to help combat terrorist travel, it has become increasingly difficult for terrorist groups to get trained operatives into the United States.

    Even jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have been forced to undertake remote operations involving bombs placed aboard aircraft overseas rather than placing operatives in the country. This indicates that the group does not have the ability or the network to support such operatives. In addition to remote operations launched from its base in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has also undertaken efforts to radicalize grassroots operatives residing in the United States, equipping them with easy-to-follow instructions for attack through its English-language magazine, Inspire.

    This focus on radicalizing and equipping grassroots operatives is also reflected in the fact that the majority of the attacks and failed plots inside the United States since 2001 have involved such grassroots operatives rather than trained terrorists. These operatives are either U.S. citizens, such as Nidal Hasan, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Faisal Shahzad, or resident aliens such as Najibullah Zazi. Failed shoe bomber Richard Reid was traveling on a British passport (no U.S. visa required) and the would-be underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had obtained a valid U.S. visa. The operatives had the ability to legally reside in the United States or to enter the country legally without having to sneak across the border from Mexico.  

    Could a terrorist operative take advantage of the U.S.-Mexico border? Possibly. Is one likely to attempt such a crossing when so much publicity and extra enforcement has been directed to that border? Probably not.

    Copyright © 2014 Stratfor. All rights reserved;. This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR.


    About The Author

    Tahmina Watson Scott Stewart supervises Stratfor's analysis of terrorism and security issues. Before joining Stratfor, he was a special agent with the U.S. State Department for 10 years and was involved in hundreds of terrorism investigations.

    Stewart was the lead State Department investigator assigned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the follow-up New York City bomb plot. He also led a team of American agents assisting the Argentine investigation of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and was involved in investigations following a series of attacks and attempted attacks by the Iraqi intelligence service during the first Gulf War.

    Stewart was deputy regional security officer in Guatemala City and was responsible for embassy and diplomatic security at that post as well as in Belize City. As protective intelligence coordinator for Dell, he served as a member of Michael Dell's executive protective team. He also has consulted on terrorism issues for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    He is regularly featured as a security expert in leading media outlets, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN International, NPR, Reuters, USA Today, The Associated Press, World Magazine, Fox News, Discovery Channel and Time magazine.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

      Posting comments is disabled.

    Categories

    Collapse

    article_tags

    Collapse

    There are no tags yet.

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • Article: Immigration Judges’ Union Fights for Judicial Independence By Karolina Walters
      ImmigrationDaily
      Immigration Judges’ Union Fights for Judicial Independence by Karolina Walters The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the union that represents the nation’s immigration judges, is challenging the government’s decision to remove an immigration judge from a well-known case and replace him with a judge who immediately ordered the immigrant in the case deported. NAIJ’s grievance addresses the treatment of one immigration judge, but its resolution will have implications for judicial independence throughout the entire immigration court system. The grievance was filed on behalf of Philadelphia-based immigration judge Steven A. Morley, who was presiding over the case of Mr. Reynaldo Castro-Tum. Castro-Tum’s case rose to national importance earlier this year when Attorney General Jeff Sessions chose to refer the case to himself to reconsider the Board of Immigration Appeals’ previous decision in the case. In reconsidering the decision, Sessions effectively eliminated judges’ use of administrative closure, a docket management tool. Sessions sent Castro-Tum’s case back to Judge Morley, noting that the immigration court order Castro-Tum removed if he did not appear at his next hearing. Castro-Tum did not appear at the next hearing. However, Judge Morley continued the case to resolve whether Castro-Tum received adequate notice of the hearing. Due process requires, at a minimum, that an individual be given notice of proceedings and an opportunity to be heard by a judge. But before the next hearing could take place, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) replaced Judge Morley with an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge who ordered Castro-Tum removed when he did not appear at court again. In their grievance, NAIJ asserts that the decision to remove Judge Morley from Castro-Tum’s case and reassign many other cases from his docket resulted in unacceptable interference with judicial independence. The grievance specifically claims that EOIR’s actions violate immigration judges’ authority under the regulations to exerci...
      08-17-2018, 11:12 AM
    • Article: Indirect Refoulement: Why the US Cannot Create a Safe Third Country Agreement with Mexico By Sophia Genovese
      ImmigrationDaily
      Indirect Refoulement: Why the US Cannot Create a Safe Third Country Agreement with Mexico by Sophia Genovese The Trump Administration is seeking to create and implement a safe third country agreement with Mexico . Under this agreement, asylum seekers arriving at the US border who have travelled through Mexico would be denied the ability to file their asylum claims in the US. Such an agreement would trample on the rights of asylum-seekers, violating both international and US asylum law. In particular, the US would be violating the international principle of non-refoulement , which provides that no State “shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his [or her] life or freedom would be threatened,” where Mexico has a proven track record of being anything but safe for asylum seekers . The US has also codified Article 33(1) of the Refugee Convention into Section 208(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which provides that it will not return an asylum seeker to his or her country of origin, but may, at the determination of the Attorney General, remove the asylum seeker to a “safe third country… where the [asylum seeker] would have access to a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalent temporary protection.” Although Mexican officials have not yet indicated whether they would sign a safe third country agreement with the US, asylum advocates should proactively seek to prevent such a devastating policy with a country that lacks adequate asylum protections. As reported by Human Rights First and Amnesty International , 75 percent of asylum seekers apprehended and detained by the National Institute of Migration (INM), the Mexican immigration enforcement agency, were not informed of their right to seek asylum. Even if asylum seekers are able to make their claims, only 30% of the asylum proceedings are ever concluded , and even fewer are granted, leaving many bona fide asylum seekers stranded without a resolution. The treatment of unaccompanied minors’ asylum claims in Mexico are even more dismal. Of the 35,000 minors apprehended by the INM in the first half of 2016, only 138 were able to apply for asylum , of which only 77 were granted protection. Beyond the failing asylum system in Mexico, asylum seekers are also in extreme danger of kidnapping, murder, rape, trafficking, and other crimes by INM officers and civilians. A safe third country agreement with Mexico would violate the United States’ international obligations under the 1967 Optional Protocol to the Refugee Convention, to which we are a signatory, which adopts by incorporation the obligations outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which the US is not a signatory. Take the example of an asylum-seeker, Mrs. H, who is fleeing politically-motivated violence in Honduras. Her husband, Mr. H, was a vocal political activist who opposed the National Party and members of the Honduran government. Mr. H began to receive death threats due to his political beliefs and reported such threats to the authorities. The authorities, however, di...
      08-16-2018, 02:32 PM
    • Article: Flawed Statistics Undermine USCIS/ICE/SEVP’s Restriction of D/S for Unlawful Presence By Eugene Goldstein, Esq.
      ImmigrationDaily

      Flawed Statistics Undermine USCIS/ICE/SEVP’s Restriction of D/S for Unlawful Presence

      by


      On August 9, 2018 USCIS published a “Policy Memorandum” restricting the 20-year-old calculation of Duration of Status (D/S) for F-1, J-1 and M-1 entrants (and their derivative families). https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/...immigrants.pdf

      USCIS also published an announcement (hereinafter “announcement”) “USCIS Issues Revised Guidance on Unlawful Presence for Students and Exchange Visitors https://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-iss...hange-visitors , and a general discussion “Unlawful Presence and Bars to Admissibility” ...

      08-15-2018, 12:57 PM
    • Article: Update On Express Entry Immigration To Canada By Edward C. Corrigan and Selvin Mejia
      ImmigrationDaily
      Update On Express Entry Immigration To Canada by Edward C. Corrigan and Selvin Mejia On January 1, 2015 the Federal Conservatives introduced significant changes to Canada’s economic immigration program. Formerly called the Skilled Worker program the new program was re-branded as Express Entry which included Skilled Workers, the Federal Skilled Trades program, and the In-Canada Experience Program. Canada modelled its revamped economic immigration program on New Zealand’s. There is also an Atlantic Immigration program. In addition there is a separate Live-In Caregiver program where individuals can apply for Permanent Residence after two years employment in this category. EXPRESS ENTRY The initial object of the changes was to create a list of Applicants where the Federal Government could select the best and the brightest from the list of Applicants. The Express Entry was supposed have applicants who had an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and a valid job offer from an approved Canadian Employer. Under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) candidates were award 600 points for having an approved job offer. Applicants would have achieved a point score of around 1,000 with the 600 points for having a valid offer of employment under the CRS. The provinces in Canada were also allowed to select Applicants according to their economic needs and these applicants that were selected through the respective provincial nominee programs by a province were awarded 600 points to be added to their score. Ontario also has a program where graduates from an Ontario University with a Master’s or who were in a PhD. program would be approved and awarded 600 points which virtually assured that they would be approved and provided with an invitation to apply. There is a quota that governs this graduate program. LABOUR MARKET IMPACT ASSESSMENTS Things did not go according to plan with Federal Express Entry. Very few Applicants were able to attai...
      08-14-2018, 12:50 PM
    • Article: USCIS Finalizes Unlawful Presence Policy Putting F, J and M Nonimmigrants In Great Jeopardy By Cyrus D. Mehta
      ImmigrationDaily
      USCIS Finalizes Unlawful Presence Policy Putting F, J and M Nonimmigrants In Great Jeopardy by Cyrus D. Mehta The USCIS finalized its unlawful presence policy for F, J and M nonimmigrants on August 9, 2018. The final policy makes no significant changes from the draft policy of May 10, 2018. My earlier blog noted the flaws in the draft policy, which persist in the final policy. The final policy incorrectly breaks down the distinction between violating status and being unlawfully present in the US. As of August 9, 2018, F, J and M nonimmigrants who have failed to maintain nonimmigrant status will start accruing unlawful presence. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to 3-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. See INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I) & (II) . Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled, are permanently inadmissible. See INA § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(1). Prior to August 9, 2018, foreign students (F nonimmigrants) and exchange visitors (J nonimmigrants) who were admitted for, or present in the United States in, Duration of Status started accruing unlawful presence on the day after USCIS formally found a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for another immigrant benefit or on the day after an immigration judge ordered the applicant excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision was appealed), whichever came first. F and J nonimmigrants, and foreign vocational students (M nonimmigrants), who were admitted until a specific date certain accrued unlawful presence on the day after their Form I-94 expired, on the day after USCIS formally found a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit, or on the day after an immigration judge ordered the applicant excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision was appealed), whichever came first. This will no longer be the case. Under the new policy effective August 9, 2018, any status violation will start the accrual of unlawful presence. The nonimmigrant will not be provided with any formal notice of a status violation, and any violation from the past that has been discovered would have already started the accrual of unlawful presence. According to the pol...
      08-14-2018, 10:51 AM
    • Article: PERM Book Practice Tip - Maintenance of Status in PERM Cases By Joel Stewart, Editor PERM Book III
      ImmigrationDaily
      PERM Book Practice Tip - Maintenance of Status in PERM Cases by Joel Stewart, Editor PERM Book III Before beginning a PERM case, an employer must always check the immigration history of the foreign national to confirm that he or she is eligible to receive permanent residency, and whether the applicant may expect to apply by Adjustment of Status or by Consular Processing. Focus must be placed on determining that the foreign national has always maintained status in the United States – whether it by as a temporary visitor for pleasure, business, as a student or in an authorized category of work. In addition to the Resume and Diplomas of the foreign worker, it is recommended to ask the worker to provide a time line to prove maintenance of status. This can be done by establishing an unbroken line of authorized stay and status in the US, and by confirming that the applicant has not worked without authorization by proving the monthly income from the time of first entering the United States. The issue of maintenance of status is more acute for vi...
      08-13-2018, 02:21 PM
    Working...
    X