Terrorists At Our Border?

Posted on Monday, November 6, 2023
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
Flag of Palestine painted on the concrete wall with human silhouettes. Gaza and Israel conflict. Terrorist organizations hezbollah and hamas

The FBI has troubles, but foreign terrorists coming here tops the list. On October 7, Hamas hit Israel. On October 15, FBI Director Chris Wray warned about a spike in anti-Semitism, and “increase in…threats.” On October 31, he raised the ante, Hamas-linked threats at a “higher level.” Privately, trusted sources tell me, lots of disturbing “chatter.” Here is what we know. 

As the FBI Director went on record arguing Hamas “will inspire the greatest US terror threat since ISIS,” law enforcement around the country is doubling down on security, surveillance, and contingency planning.

Already, protests have erupted in response to Hamas attacking Israel, Israel’s self-defense response in Gaza, remarks by officials at the UN, in the US, and in European countries, with specific concerns tied to protests going violent, groups taking law into their hands, and “lone wolf” sympathizers.

Here are hard facts, not to be overstated or ignored. First, whatever anyone else wants to argue, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are terrorist organizations supported by Iran, all involved in the current mayhem in Israel and Gaza.

Second, while no terror by these groups has hit the US, a CBP memo reported in The Daily Caller distributing facts, not denied by CBP, although lacking “specific information.”

Says the CBP memo: “Individuals inspired by or reacting to the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border” and “foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the U.S. to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico.”

Asked to explain, CBP said – cryptically – it just “provides frontline personnel a wide range of context for situational awareness in order to ensure they remain vigilant in fulfillment of our homeland and border security missions,” adding “situational awareness briefs are not threat assessments.”

So, be prepared but not scared? An elevated threat without specifics? Look at corroborating evidence: Every major police department in the country, from New York and DC to Los Angeles, is suddenly on watch, looking inward, 4000 elevating vigilance for this exact type of threat.

On one hand, that is very reassuring; more eyes out for bad actors and sleeper cells means more likelihood they get detected, stopped, deterred, and stay docile. Over time, they may be identified, flushed or ferreted out, disrupted, dismantled, and eliminated.

But right now, something else is afoot. Credible sources warn several things are happening at the same time – which may spell trouble. The Southern border continues to be porous. Last month, CBP intercepted “more than 600” on the “terror watch list.” Who got through?

More, Iranian warships are appearing in Venezuelan ports, an oddity, except that anarchists and communists, terrorists and those who aim to sow chaos, fraternize – and are plainly doing so.

Add the relative ease by which actors arriving in Venezuela can travel up the Panamanian highway and into the US unless detected and reversed by Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, or Mexico, few of which have capacity.

So, where does that leave us? Not clear, except other sources confirm threats on critical infrastructure, which could be just “shadow boxing,” fear generating fear, or real, are up.

Bottom line: Keep eyes open, as terror “over there” could become terror here. Second, trust and thank law enforcement, as they are on it. Finally, thank Mr. Biden, as terror like water goes to and through weak points, he has given us those. FBI does not always get it right, but this time, they have a bead on what matters most: foreign terrorist threats here – and we should too.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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