TEL AVIV – While U.S. government agencies have strongly denied a Judicial Watch report claiming there are ISIS camps near the U.S. border with Mexico, lawmakers have expressed fears the global jihadist organization is linking up with deadly Mexican drug cartels. Such a partnership would not only help to facilitate the smuggling of jihadists into the U.S. but could ultimately translate into a devastating terrorist attack on American soil, such as an Electro Magnetic Pulse, or EMP, catastrophe.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Northern Command and the Texas Department of Public Safety all have denied the April 14 Judicial Watch report citing unnamed “sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.” The sources claimed ISIS “has established its base around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as ‘Anapra’ situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.” Judicial Watch further reported on an ISIS camp west of Juarez, which the organization said was planning to attack towns in New Mexico.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, said he contacted the Mexican government, DHS and the U.S. Northern Command, all of whom told him they have no intelligence indicating ISIS is operating on the U.S.-Mexico border. O’Rourke represents the border city of El Paso and the surrounding area. “Stories like these are good at scaring people and getting attention for those who spread them,” wrote O’Rourke on his Facebook page. “But they are terrible for the country’s image of the border, for El Paso’s ability to recruit talent, and for our region’s opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of being the largest bi-national community in the world.”
Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Robert J. Bodisch also denied the Judicial Watch claims.
“The Department of Public Safety and its intelligence community partners have no such credible information to corroborate or validate this today,” Bodisch wrote in an agency memo.
It’s not the first Judicial Watch report claiming ISIS was using Mexico as a base to stage attacks in the U.S. Last August, the watchdog reported “Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices,” citing anonymous “high-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources.”
In a report that made headlines last October, two Republican lawmakers told BuzzFeed that suspected terrorists had infiltrated the U.S.–Mexico border and as many as 10 jihadists were captured. The DHS at the time denied the claims.
Numerous U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly warned about ISIS teaming up with drug cartels.
In October, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., warned in a town hall conversation that “groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism.” ….. “They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.” Cotton was likely referencing the Judicial Watch report.
In August, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, was asked on Newmax TV’s “America’s Forum” whether there was an ISIS-Mexican drug cartel connection.
“My opinion is yes,” he replied. “There seems to be at least a talking to each other. How much? I don’t know. But … drug cartels use the same operational plan as terrorist groups do. They kill their opponents, they behead their opponents, they brag about it and they have operational control of many portions of the southern border of the United States. Mexico doesn’t.’
“The United States doesn’t,” he continued. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be crossing daily with their drugs. They’re as vicious as some of these other terrorist organizations. We need to recognize them that this is an organized international crime group. And we have to deal with them as such.”
The reports of terrorists trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border also took center stage during the 2012 presidential campaign, when candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both warned terrorists infiltrating via Mexico posed a significant threat to U.S. national security. Texas’s O’Rourke, however, was the public face of the Democrats in responding to those claims. He stated Republicans were simply trying to gin up opposition to immigration reform. “There’s a longstanding history in this country of projecting whatever fears we have onto the border,” stated O’Rourke. “In the absence of understanding the border, they insert their fears. Before it was Iran and al-Qaida. Now it’s ISIS. They just reach the conclusion that invasion is imminent, and it never is.”
If terrorists are teaming up with Mexican drug cartels, the implications could be cataclysmic. Not only do Mexican drug gangs maintain sophisticated smuggling routes, some of the more dangerous Mexican group have evidenced guerrilla-like tactics already used in terrorist-style attacks.
On Oct. 27, 2013, for example, the criminal drug cartel known as the Knights Templars attacked electrical facilities and blacked out Mexico’s Michoacan state, which boasts a population of 420,000. During the blackout, the Knights Templars reportedly entered towns and villages at will, terrorized the citizens and police, and publicly executed leaders opposed to the drug trade.
In an attack still largely unexplained, on April 16, 2013, a sophisticated assault was carried out on PG&E Corp’s Metcalf Transmission Substation outside of San Jose, California, which supplies power to San Francisco and other areas. A team of gunmen fired sniper and assault rifles on the substation, severely damaging 17 transformers. Peter Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, believes the assault could have been part of a terrorist group’s preparation for a future attack on the U.S. electrical grid.
Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the U.S. agency responsible for grid security, also warned that the Metcalf attack was likely a dry run for a future large-scale attack.
On the same day as the Metcalf assault, North Korea flew its KSM-3 satellite on the optimum trajectory and altitude to evade U.S. radars and carry out a potential EMP attack drill.
Networks within U.S. cities
An ISIS-Mexican drug cartel alliance could cause pandemonium in U.S. cities. Mexican drug cartels have established major networks within the U.S. Earlier this month it was reported that federal agents arrested 976 suspected gang members across scores of American cities in a large-scale operation in February and March. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said 199 of those arrested were foreign nationals. Criminal street gangs are responsible for the majority of violent crimes within the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs, according to a previous report by the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center, or NDIC.
The NDIC was a task force established in 1993 to coordinate law enforcement actions to stop drug trafficking and to curb the growing threat of violent gangs in the U.S. The agency was closed by the Obama administration in June 2011. In October 2011, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that in 2009 and 2010 it arrested 5,270 illegal alien gang members across all 50 states.
A 2011 FBI report draws a far dimmer picture of the nature of criminal gangs operating domestically. According to the FBI, criminal street gangs – mostly comprised of illegal aliens – are acquiring high-powered, military-style weapons to engage in lethal encounters with law enforcement members and citizens alike. States the report: “There are an estimated 1.4 million active street, prison and outlaw motorcycle gang members in more than 33,000 gangs operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.” The report notes those numbers reflect an increase from 2009 figures due “primarily to more comprehensive reporting from law enforcement and enhanced gang recruiting efforts.”
In July 2014, WND reported the risk of ISIS infiltrating from Mexico, perhaps with the help of drug gangs. WND senior staff writer Michael Maloof, a U.S. Defense Department analyst under President Bush, warned ISIS could use the Mexican border to infiltrate America, and it could happen “sooner rather than later.” “MS-13 already are in over 1,100 U.S. cities, and, as a consequence, the infiltration capabilities are very, very high and the threat from them can be sooner rather than later,” Maloof warned at the time.