BY GIL POTTS
Recent credible reports indicate the Department of Homeland Security is looking for clues on when and where a terrorist attack could take place along the United States/Mexican border. Homeland Security is keeping a close eye on the Mexican border city of Juarez, thanks to increasing social media communications intercepted by DHS.
However, the official word from Homeland Security Secretary Jah Johnson is “At present, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland from ISIL. Plainly, however, violent extremists who support ISIL have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas, and ISIL constitutes an active and serious threat within the region,â€ referring to the Middle East region of Syria and Iraq.
The Texas Department of Public Safety last week warned law enforcement officials in a Situational Awareness Bulletin, “A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of the U.S. for a terror attack.â€
The three-page bulletin, entitled “ISIS Interest on the US Southwest Border,â€ dated August 28 was released last Thursday to Texas law enforcement officials. The unclassified law enforcement bulletin states “Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option.â€
High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have also confirmed that a bulletin has been issued warning of a possible terrorist attack on the border to be imminent.
Earlier this year, a surge of illegal immigration at our Southern border created quite a surge of attention to the issue of open borders. The dispute as to what to do about it has become more of an issue than the actual surge of border activity. The burgeoning question now inconveniencing law makers on both sides of the political aisle is what to do about it.
Some say, “Nothing at all, itâ€™s a free country,â€ while others say “if this keeps up, it wonâ€™t be free for long.â€ Americans of every national origin hold varying opinions on the subject, as different as night and day. Despite all the differing views and judgments, there is one undeniable dilemma that could haunt every American citizen: Who is crossing our border?
There is nothing new about these threats or warnings. Weâ€™ve heard them before, just maybe not so dramatically poignant in their delivery. Adding to the distressing nature of the above mentioned Law Enforcement Bulletin is the upcoming anniversary of the tragic events of the 911 attacks and the fact that in previous years, additional acts of terrorism have been preceded by the interception of increased radio talk and chatter among known terrorist groups around the world. Most notably, it would include the attacks in Benghazi resulting in the death of the American Ambassador to Libya and three others.
It appears, controversy hangs heavy on the minds of those concerned with the safety and security of our borderland. At the forefront of that task is our locally revered Border Patrol. Their stated mission is “to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards.â€
The original El Paso sector was charged with border related law enforcement duties in New Mexico and the three western counties of Texas. It was originally comprised of mounted guards of the Patrol Inspectors, headquartered in El Paso, and the Civil Services Register for Railway Mail Clerks. A couple of their primary responsibilities included curbing the flow of illegal Chinese aliens and repelling the importation of illegal liquor from Mexico. Today, drugs have supplanted the liquor, and Hispanics have taken the place of the Chinese.
One major safety barrier to terrorism is the I-10 checkpoint operated by the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol Station where all eastbound traffic is subject to scrutiny before proceeding to major population areas in the east. That station is also responsible for 73 miles of the border along the Rio Grande, while agents assigned to the Van Horn Border Patrol Station traverse a total area of 3,775 square miles, including 15 linear miles of the border at the Rio Grande.
Although modern technology certainly has made the border patrolmanâ€™s job much safer, danger still lurks in the shadows and potentially behind the bushes of every step through the desert. In the beginning, patrolmen attempting to apprehend smugglers could likely end up in a gunfight. An El Paso newspaper account in the late 1920s claimed at least one gunfight occurring every day for a solid month along the border. The Border Patrol though, gained the reputation of winning most of those bloody encounters.
Today, violent crimes are so widespread in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The most recent was issued just a few days ago.
While Secretary Johnsonâ€™s statement concerning the threat of ISIL in Syria and Iraq is welcome and hopefully properly founded, it may be disingenuous not to at least mention what is going on right here at our borders. The possibility of an attack originating in Mexico is an issue worthy of discussion to be shared with the American people.