Terrorists and a Porous Border

A while back I pointed out the threat that was developing as individuals hostile t0 US interests were poised to use the human trafficking channels through Central America to enter the US surreptitiously.  At the time the focus was primarily on Iranian sponsored conduits.  Today we are seeing hard evidence of these channels being used by groups that have an established animosity to the US and a connection to terrorist organizations.

An article in the Washington Times points out active operations by multiple smuggling organizations to move terrorists into the United States across the southern border.  The activities reported here only touch on the operations where the Border Patrol apprehended, or are aware of the activities.

Some of the men handled by the smuggling network were nabbed before they reached the U.S., but others made it into the country. The Afghan man was part of a group of six from “special-interest countries.”

The group, guided by two Mexicans employed by the smuggling network, crawled under the border fence in Arizona late last year and made it about 15 miles north before being detected by border surveillance, according to the documents, which were obtained by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican.

The article goes on to describe some of the functional breakdowns that face the Border Patrol on a regular basis.

…the Border Patrol didn’t immediately spot the Afghan man’s terrorist ties because the database that agents first checked didn’t list him. It wasn’t until agents checked an FBI database that they learned the Afghan may be a danger, the documents say.

“It’s disturbing, in so many ways,” said Joe Kasper, Mr. Hunter’s chief of staff. “The interdiction of this group … validates once again that the southern border is wide open to more than people looking to enter the U.S. illegally strictly for purposes of looking for work, as the administration wants us to believe. What’s worse, federal databases weren’t even synced and Border Patrol had no idea who they were arresting and the group was not considered a problem because none of them were considered a priority under the president’s enforcement protocol. That’s a major problem on its own, and it calls for DHS to figure out the problem — and fast.”

….

The group of six men nabbed inside the U.S. — the Afghan and five men identified as Pakistanis — all made asylum claims when they were eventually caught by the Border Patrol. Mr. Hunter said his understanding is that the five men from Pakistan were released based on those claims and have disappeared.

I don’t know about you but in these few paragraphs we see a number of very correctable operational issues.

  1. Databases:  This is a no brainer folks.  Relational databases and data mining tools have existed and been improving for decades.  A simple data warehouse combining data from all of the related databases across the agencies would solve this.  Update it on a daily basis and all of the sudden we become a whole lot better at using the information that we have.
  2. Political asylum seekers are not typically people that will travel halfway acround the world, spend thousands of dollars to a smuggling organization, crawl under a border fence, enter the country illegally, travel many miles on foot, and then claim political asylum only after being detained and questioned by authorities.
  3. If someone is claiming political asylum why would we release them rather than hold them for processing?
  4. Enforcement Priorities.  I believe that this comment is a reflection of the will of the current administration to uphold the Constitution and laws of the Republic.  Common sense dictates that when you are “at war” (“in conflict with” whatever phrase you choose to use) with an organization (not a nation state in this case but an organization and belief) that was sworn to destroy all that are unlike them, that you would prioritize securing the homeland from them.

Daesh, Al-Qaeda, ISIL, ISIS, Hamas, PLA, etc. (and there are many of them) are all supporters or active players in the declared jihad against Christianity, “the West” (including Europe), and the the United States in particular.  These organizations span the globe including APAC, EMEA, and the Americas.  All of these organizations rejoice and redouble their efforts, every time there is an attack at the heart of their enemies (Paris, London, NY, Washington).  This conflict that is not a recent development.  These hostilities go back in history to as early as the 6th Century.  To put that in context the Crusades were not initiated until the 11th Century.

Terrorism is real, and will be with us for a very long time.  Any administration that holds the reins in the United States needs to be much more conscious of that fact and much more active in balancing security and the freedoms that make this nation what it is.

As an action plan (obviously not having all of the detailed facts, budgets etc.) I would suggest to the administration that the following steps be taken immediately.

  1. Improve border security, and enforcement.  Do this by taking the following steps:
    1. Consolidate all intelligence and enforcement data on persons of interest into a single data warehouse.
    2. Implement stricter enforcement of existing laws regarding immigration.
    3. If required to complete B establish additional courts, law enforcement staff, and detention facilities to properly process everyone detained.
    4. Retask or launch additional surveillance equipment and analysis personnel to interdict air, sea, and land infiltration of the US.
    5. Provide for additional interdiction personnel and equipment to respond to actionable real time surveillance information developed from above.
  2.  Port Security
    1. Increase port security personnel and equipment to prevent human smuggling as well as potential other attacks.
  3. Airport Security
    1. ICE personnel at airports should be reinforced with additional trained personnel, equipment and K9 units.
    2. Revamp the TSA from top to bottom.  The current structure and approach is not effective.
  4. Intelligence and Enforcement agencies need to work in concert globally to ferret out and stop attacks prior to the attack entering an operational phase.
    1. Improvements have been made in this aspect of our fight but, there are still improvements to be made.

No matter what happens from a prevention standpoint, the United States will be the target of additional terrorists attacks.  These may take place within the US, or they may take place against US interests overseas.  It is inevitable that no matter what we as a nation do an attack will occur.  However, if the security of this Republic is a priority (and the Constitution makes it a priority of every administration) then there are actions that can be taken that will make a difference, provide better efficiency to the enforcement actions, and give the taxpayers a better value.  Many of these actions are common sense actions and only take a little bit of will, desire, and a very small budget to implement.  Now, we just need an administration with the will and desire to get it done.

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