National Security Threats at the U.S. Border
An interview with Todd Bensman - Illegally entering Special Interest Aliens (SIAs)
Although it is unknown to what extent counter-smuggling operations have been successful, there have been prosecutions. Recently, an SIA smuggling Yemenis across the Texan border was arrested, and prior to that a smuggler was caught bringing in at least 100 Pakistanis across the southern border. Whether or not these aliens had terrorist connections is unknown, but more muscular policies are necessary to stanch the flow by means of counter-smuggling interdictions, border walls, a national vetting center, and asylum fraud detection. While a surge of immigration judges is easing the backlog of cases at the border, these efforts are primarily focused on Spanish speaking migrants. SIAs are a distinct subset of aliens illegally entering the U.S. who have the potential to create a terrorist scenario resembling what has been seen in Europe-- a threat that has not been given adequate attention by policymakers.
Islamist terror cells within the U.S.
An interview with Ryan Mauro - Domestically-based Islamist cults
A recent bizarre case involved a group of relatives of radical imam Siraj Wahaj, listed by prosecutors as a possible unindicted co-conspirator in the 1992 World Trade Center Tower bombing, that formed an Islamic cult in New Mexico. Wahaj's grandson, a disabled toddler living with his mother, had been abducted by Wahaj's son, the child's father, who believed the boy was possessed by demons, a popular belief in Islam. Insistent that medicating the toddler to keep him alive demonstrated a lack of faith, Wahaj's son and the cult followers planned on performing an Islamic exorcism. By the time authorities traced Wahaj's grandson to the cult's New Mexico compound, the toddler, deprived of his medications, had died. The cult members believed the child would be resurrected to reveal targets for attacks. It is also known that children on the compound were being trained to commit school shootings in anticipation of the cult's apocalyptic prophecies.
Furthering public outrage, the judge in the case, citing a lack of evidence by the prosecution, ruled that cult members posed no threat to the community and ordered their release on a signature bond which carried a $20,000 penalty if they failed to appear for trial. Although the judge also ordered ankle bracelets and house arrest, both have proven ineffective in reducing flight risks in similar situations. Fortunately, additional charges were filed against the five adults to prevent their release.
While different cults have similarly planned violent actions based on claims that they are fulfilling prophecies, the media have shown a double standard when reporting on Islamist cults. Another Islamist cult, Jamaat al Fuqra, has established 22 Islamic villages across the U.S. Now known as Muslims of the Americas, the group has proven popular with the African-American prison convert community since the 1980s. The cult follows a Pakistani leader, Sheikh Gulani, who lives lavishly while his followers live in poverty.
It is reasonable to expect that in the future, other groups will employ similar strategies in order to build an infrastructure and generate funds, either by conducting criminal activities like welfare and food stamp fraud, or by indoctrinating followers to believe that poverty brings them closer to Allah. Group members who are willing to impoverish themselves to prove their faith hand over a percentage of earned wages to unscrupulous and deranged cult leaders who hide evidence of their activities from law enforcement.
The New Mexico case provides insight into the mentality of cult members who kept children malnourished in their belief that such deprivation was a proof of faith. The Wahaj cult is one unfortunate example of a leader interpreting fiqh, Islamic doctrine, at the expense of his followers.
Summary accounts by Marilyn Stern, Communications Coordinator for the Middle East Forum