Latin American has Become a Breeding Ground for Terror.
Intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that ISIS and other terror groups are exploiting weaknesses in South America to fund their operations and plan attacks on the United States.
A report released in December by Spain’s Defense agency (known as Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos (IEEE) or Spanish Institute of Strategic Studies) describes how Islamic terrorists operate and fundraise within South America with the intent to attack the U.S. Judicial Watch obtained and translated the report which includes notes from Spanish operatives saying, “Latin America represents an important region for Islamic radicalism because conditions enable the free, almost undetectable, movement of their members throughout the region.”
The document, authored by a counterterrorism expert, titled El radicalismo islámico en América Latina, De Hezbolá al Daesh (Estado Islámico), or Islamic Radicalism in Latin America, from Hezbollah to ISIS, points out that governments in the region consider Islamic terrorism to be a foreign problem, and intelligence agencies are ill equipped to handle the threat they represent. Spain’s defense agency also said, “The ignorance involving the threat of jihadist terrorism in Latin America has been such that some governments have refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities and other intelligence services.”
The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah is described as possessing the biggest fundraising operations in Latin America, though ISIS has developed a prominent presence and have established ties with drug cartels — like El clan Barakat in Paraguay and Joumaa in Colombia — to raise and launder large sums of cash.
Military experts in Spain call the relationship between the terrorists organizations and organized crime groups as a “marriage of convenience” with different goals.
ISIS is expanding quickly in Latin America, the report warns, revealing that around 100 individuals from the region’s large Muslim community have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups recently. Argentina and Brazil have the largest Muslim populations in Latin America with more than 1 million each, the report says. Venezuela, Mexico, Peru and Chile also have large and rapidly growing Muslim populations. Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean islands on the northern edge of Latin America, are identified as “especially worrisome” because local authorities reported that at least 70 of their citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.
For years, Judicial Watch has warned that a “strong connection between Islamic terrorists and Latin America has been developing” particularly in Mexico. With a dangerously porous southern border, the collaboration between Muslim terrorists and Mexican drug cartels has created a critical threat to the United States.
Mexican drug cartels smuggling foreigners from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso has been documented, though not publicized by the previous administration. The foreigners, classified as Special Interest Aliens (SIA) by the U.S. government, are being transported to stash areas in Acala, a rural crossroads located around 54 miles from El Paso on a state road—Highway 20.
State Department records confirm that “Arab extremists” have been entering the U.S. through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells” for years.
Among them was a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI. A cable from the American consulate in Ciudad Juárez identified the wanted terrorist as Adnan G. El Shurkrjumah who was later killed in 2014 by the Pakistan Army in an intelligence-borne operation in South Waziristan after multiple plots to bomb American cities was discovered. Intelligence reports reveal, that despite being a wanted terrorist, El Shurkrjumah was able to slip across the border multiple times—even piloting an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico.
Additional U.S. government documents reveal that some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States.
Given all of the evidence, it is about time the U.S. put some serious effort into protecting the southern border.