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Hizbullah building terror infrastructure in U.S., infiltrating from Mexico
Special From Geostrategy-Direct.com
The following is excerpted from the 'Backgrounder' column, compiled by Bill Gertz.
The threat to the United States posed by Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorists is growing and U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have failed to adequately address the problem, according to U.S. intelligence officials. ShareThis
Hizbullah is continuing to build up its terrorist infrastructure within the United States through infiltration operations across the Mexican border and through other U.S. entry points.
However, little of the activity has been detected by the FBI, which has not been able to identify the networks, other than through some of its semi-covert fundraising operatives who have been caught.
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The most recent detection of Hizbullah infiltration dates to 2006 when FBI Director Robert Mueller stated in House testimony that “Hizbullah operatives were assisting others with some association with Hizbullah in coming to the United States.”
“That was an organization that we dismantled and identified those persons who had been smuggled in,” Mueller said, adding that they had come across the Mexican border.
The influx of Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shi'ite terror group that is considered a major terrorist surrogate for Iran, is believed linked to increased international pressure on Iran for its nuclear program.
U.S. officials fear that if the U.S. or Israel take military or covert action against Iran’s nuclear program preemptively, that Iran will unleash clandestine Hizbullah operatives in the United States to conduct major terrorist attacks.
The office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a part of the director of national intelligence, launched a counterintelligence initiative several years ago to try and identify U.S.-based Hizbullah networks but the effort has been largely unsuccessful, U.S. officials said.
Michael Braun, former assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told The Washington Times last year that Hizbullah is using the same southern narcotics trafficking routes as Mexican drug networks.
Hizbullah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," Braun said.
Concerns about Hizbullah in the United States followed a recent Pentagon report on Iran that stated that “we assess with high confidence that over the last three decades Iran has methodically cultivated a network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of conducting effective, plausibly deniable attacks against Israel and the Untied States.”
Through Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force, Iran has maintained terrorist surrogate capabilities around the world including the Middle East and North Africa, the report said, noting that “recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela.”
“If U.S. involvement in conflicts in these regions deepens, contact with the IRGC-QF, directly or through extremist groups it supports, will be more frequent and consequential,” the report said.
ENTERED THROUGH MEXICO
Seeking asylum, nearly 80 Somalis await in Tacoma detention center
Nearly 80 Somali nationals who are seeking asylum in the United States after entering the country through Mexico have been transferred to a detention center in Tacoma - the latest group of a growing number of East African immigrants who are seeking entrance to the country through routes usually used by Latino immigrants.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics say that nearly 260 Somalis have reached the U.S.-Mexican border in the first eight months of the fiscal year 2010, eclipsing the more than 240 who sought asylum the entire year before.
The arrival of Somalis at Tacoma has sent the lone free legal aid firm that serves the detention center scrambling to try to help the asylum seekers navigate the country's complex immigration laws.
Attorney Betsy Tao says it's too early to predict if all the asylum applications will be granted.
Democrats and Republicans on Homeland Security Committee Agree That WMD Terror Attack Likely by 2013
Friday, June 11, 2010
By Edwin Mora
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)(CNSNews.com) - Representatives from both parties on the House Homeland Security Committee said on Thursday that they agree with the assessment made by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism that it is likely that by 2013 terrorists will launch an attack somewhere in the world using a weapon of mass destruction. The commission had warned that terrorists were "more likely" to use a biological than a nuclear weapon.
"The Commission believes that unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," stated the bi-partisan report, "World at Risk." "The Commission further believes that terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon. The Commission believes that the U.S. government needs to move more aggressively to limit the proliferation of biological weapons and reduce the prospect of a bioterror attack."
The U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism released the report in December 2008. The commission was chaired by former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who once served as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and former Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri.
On June 10, 2010, during a press conference on Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked a bi-partisan panel of members of the House Homeland Security Committee if they agreed with the commission’s warning about the likelihood of a WMD terrorist attack by 2013.
“Nothing I’ve seen [from the intelligence community] would say it would not happen,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking Republican on the panel, told CNSNews.com.
“Just in the last year we’ve seen three attacks against the United States ... you add radioactive material to that and we’re talking about a WMD,” said Rep. King.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.Y.), another member of the homeland security panel, echoed his Republican counterpart, saying, “I found that the supportive evidence leads me to believe that [the Commission’s warnings are] right on target.”
The New York Democrat added that the assessment that a WMD terrorist attack is likely by the end of 2013 is “not meant to alarm people but to really provide a sense of urgency to get off the dime and get something done for a change.”
September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service)In highlighting the urgency for the United States to deal with the threat of a potential terrorist attack involving WMDs, Rep. Pascrell said, “It’s [been] nine years since 9/11 and we need to deal with this and we need to deal with it yesterday. So I can assure you that everything is going to be done to do that.”
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology, told CNSNews.com, “There’s no reason not to believe that the [WMD Commission’s] predictions are true.”
“We’ve been very fortunate thus far that we haven’t seen a major massive casualty event in our nation since 9/11, but clearly people are working at coming up with the magic bullet that will cause this,” she said.
During his opening remarks, Rep. Bernie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, acknowledged that when the WMD Commission chairmen testified before his committee, “both were quite clear … that something bad will happen somewhere between now and 2013.”
Thursday’s news conference was focused on the introduction of a bi-partisan bill, “The Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010,” which is sponsored by King and Pascrell.
Chairman Thompson (D-Miss.) described the bill as “comprehensive legislation to address the WMD threat.”
“It’s especially important to note that our legislation concerns all weapons of mass destruction threats, but we give special emphasis to the emerging threat of biological, in which the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission gave an F to the United States government for failing to do enough to prevent a biological attack,” said Pascrell.
The bill “shows that we are attempting to bring that sense of urgency to our colleagues in the Congress and hopefully to the White House over” the WMD problem, said Rep. Dan Lungren, the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology.
“You can’t deal with an enemy unless you know that enemy, you admit that enemy’s strength, you try to understand their weaknesses, and you try to understand your own vulnerability--that’s what this bill does,” said Lungren.
In December 2008, the same month the commission released its report on the WMD threat, then-DNI Mike McConnell made a similar assessment of the threat of a WMD terrorist attack in a talk he delivered at Harvard University. “With weapons of mass destruction that could result in the death of many people--chemical, biological, nuclear--we assess biological as the more likely,” said McConnell, “and it's better than an even chance in the next five years that an attack by one of those weapons systems will be conducted in some place on the globe--not necessarily in the United States, but somewhere."
WMD world map. (Wikipedia Commons) Chairman Thompson indicated that the White House would be issuing an executive order that would resemble the bill that was introduced on Thursday.
“The White House should be issuing an executive order on this issue also very shortly and I don’t think you’ll see much of a departure conceptually than what we have been talking about here today in that executive order,” said Thompson.
During the press briefing, CNSNews.com also asked the lawmakers about the border security implications of the WMD threat.
“If weaponry … came across the borders, obviously we need to have everything in place to intercept,” said Rep. Pascrell. “When you understand how a biological weapon is put together … the ingredients are out there.”
“It’s easier to deliver that kind of a weapon than a nuclear weapon -- that isn’t to say that we are in any way, shape, or form minimizing the threat of a nuclear attack,” explained Pascrell.
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