FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Mike RosenNovember 15, 2012 512.633.4550McCaul Subcommittee Report Connects Dots Between Iran, Hezbollah and Mexican Drug CartelsUnderscores Terrorist Threat to the Southwest BorderWASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, today released the report “A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border“, an assessment of the threat from drug cartels and terrorist organizations.While the original Line in the Sand report in 2006 focused primarily on Mexican drug cartel activity, this report connects the dots between Iran and Hezbollah’s growing presence in Latin America, and their recently documented nexus with Mexican drug cartels. The Subcommittee believes this underscores a threat that is not fully on the radar of this administration.The Subcommittee believes the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America represents a strategic migration to position terrorist operations within striking distance of the United States. If Iran is provoked, the report asserts Hezbollah finance cells in Latin America will have the ability to turn operational.The report cites the central criticism of the 9/11 Commission was our failure to connect thedots and to use our imagination when assessing the threat landscape. This report is an attempt to be pro-active and not reactive.NOTE: The report is the subject of an Oversight & Investigations hearing tomorrow.Friday, Nov. 16, 9:00am, 311 CannonLive Web Stream (Internet Explorer preferred)
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Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-10)
Chairman, Homeland Security Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee
“Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.”
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Retired)
Senior Fellow, Californians for Population Stabilization
My commentary today will focus on the threats to the security of our nation that the ongoing conflict with Iran poses to the United States and its citizens. Generally my focus is on immigration-related issues and, in fact, the troubling headline above directly relates to the lack of security of our nation’s borders and the abject failures of the federal government to effectively enforce our nation’s immigration laws. That headline appeared yesterday in the Huffington Post article that addressed a hearing that was conducted on March 21, 2012 by the House Committee on Homeland Security that is chaired by Congressman Peter King of New York, that was entitled:
The issue of threats posed to the United States by terrorists from the Middle East is hardly a new threat. In 1993 our nation was attacked on two separate occasions by aliens from the Middle East who carried out deadly attacks on American soil.
In January 1993 a Pakistani national by the name of Mir Kansi stood outside CIA Headquarters with an AK-47 and opened fire on the vehicles of CIA officials reporting for work on that cold January morning in Virginia. When the smoke dissipated, two CIA officer lay dead and three other were seriously wounded. Kansi fled the United States and was ultimately brought back to stand trial. He was found guilty and executed for his crimes. He had also been granted political asylum and had been subsequently found to have lied on his application, thereby committing a felony, fraud. Had the fraud been detected and had he been deported from the United States, those who were killed and wounded would not have been harmed.
Just one month later, on February 26, 1993 a bomb-laden truck was parked in the garage under the World Trade Center complex and detonated. The blast nearly brought one of the 110 story towers down sideways. As a result of the explosion, 6 innocent people were killed, hundreds were injured and an estimated one half billion dollars in damages were inflicted on that iconic complex of buildings located just blocks from Wall Street. That attack was also carried out by alien terrorists who managed to not only game the visa process in order to enter the United States but the immigration benefits program that enabled them to remain in the United States and embed themselves as they went about their preparations to carry out that attack.
On May 20, 1997 I participated in my first Congressional hearing. That hearing was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and was entitled:
That hearing was called specifically because of those two terrorist attacks that had been carried out more than four years previously.
The 9/11 Commission found that of 94 terrorists who were identified as operating in our country in the decade leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some 59 or roughly two thirds of them were found to have committed immigration fraud to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country.
Clearly the nexus between failures of the immigration system have been linked to previous terrorist attacks and yet the vulnerabilities remain.
Currently the United States continues to face the potential of terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, but where the Iranian situation is concerned, Hezbollah is believed to pose the threat.
This sobering assessment was the focus of the Homeland Security Committee hearing that is the predication for my commentary. Here is a quote from the Huffington Post article:
While most of the individuals who have been found carrying out what appears to have been surveillance of a pre-operations nature were determined to be Iranian government officials, there are only a relative handful of such officials who are present in the United States at any given time. Therefore it is important to “connect the dots.”
On February 10, 2012 I posted a commentary on my website that explained my concerns about the potential that a growing number of Iranian shock troops (Cudz) that are stationed in Venezuela could be called into action and have them surreptitiously cross the U.S./Mexican border if an when the Iranian government decided to attack strategic targets inside the United States.
My commentary was based on a number of factors, beginning with statements made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who threatened to attack the United States even if an attack was launched against his country’s nuclear program by Israel and not the United States. These threats were widely reported in the news media including ABC News which posted a report that was entitled:
“Exclusive: Israel Warns US Jews: Iran Could Strike Here.”
Going back a bit further, on April 21, 2010 the Washington Times published a report entitled:
That news report, in fact, was based on a report that had been issued by the Pentagon about the apparent growing threat posed by those Iranian shock troops being hosted by Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, a Latin American leader who is certainly no ally of the United States! Give this possibility, indeed, probability some thought:
I can tell you, based on my 30 years of experience with the INS, that it is impossible to sit across the table from a person and be certain as to their true identities or even nationality. Iranians shock troops who live in Venezuela for a number of years, immersing themselves in the Spanish language and culture of Latin America could easily run our porous border and take a mundane job while they await a message from Iran telling calling them to action against the United States. The easiest way for a terrorist to hide in plain sight or, to use the jargon of the 9/11 Commission, embed himself in a country, is to take a routine job, preferably a job that provides camouflage and mobility, such as a limo driver, an ice cream truck driver, a cab driver or a school bus driver.
In point of fact, the day before a terrorist participates in an attack, he is likely to go to his job where he has worked for months or longer, hiding in plain sight among his intended victims!
This is not the end of the bad news, either!
It is widely acknowledged that there are terrorist training camps located in the Tri-Border region of Brazil. It is believed that among the terrorist groups that operate in that dangerous region of Brazil are Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and Hamas. Yet, on January 19, 2012 President Obama gave a speech at Disney World in which he called for streamlining the process by which visas are issued to aliens from China and Brazil saying that his goal was to cut the waiting time for visas by 40%. He also called for increasing the number of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program from the current 36 countries. There is an inverse proportion between speed and accuracy, the faster a task must be accomplished, the more likely that errors will be made. Errors in this process can permit criminals and terrorists to have access to our nation.
That analogy also applies to State Department’s consular officers who decide on whether or not to issue visas to foreign visitors. Now apparently there will be even more pressure brought to bear to move the applications at warp speed!
On May 11, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on the topic:
According to recently published reports, there are fewer than 300 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents assigned to locate and apprehend illegal aliens who violated the terms of their admission into the United States.
In May, 2010 I was interviewed by CNN’s Casey Wian for a report that was titled, “Tracking Down Visa Violators.”
On May 10, 2010 I was interviewed by Daniel Gonzalez, a reporter with the Arizona Republic for an news report titled, “U.S. not cracking down on immigrants with expired visas.”
The problem is that most of the terrorists who have attacked our nation or sought to attack our nation were admitted into the United States and although they all committed visa fraud when they secured their visas and a number of them overstayed their authorized period of admission, nothing was done to take them into custody and nothing of consequence has been done to plug this gaping hole in the system.
Finally, it is important to understand why it is wrong-headed to have a Visa Waiver Program at all, let alone seek to expand it beyond the current 36 participating countries.
On July 12, 2011 I wrote a commentary for the CAPS website that detailed the benefits that the visa requirement provides to enhance national security. That commentary was entitled:
The time has come for our government to try a novel approach- connect the dots and take appropriate actions before there is another terrorist attack!