Forest Jihad: Islamic terror group claims responsibility for Arizona fires

July 9, 2013
"...can prevent forest jihad."

“…can prevent forest jihad.”

A while back, when it seemed like all Colorado was afire, I wrote about the possibility of “forest jihad,” a form of war against the West advocated by al Qaeda as part of a death by a thousand cuts strategy — destroying resources, morale, etc. And while acts of forest jihad were suspected in Europe, Israel, and Australia, there were no claims of responsibility for wildfires in the Great Satan, that is, us.

Until now:

A Palestinian jihadist group known as Masada al-Mujahideen took credit for the [Arizona] fires in a statement that was obtained and translated by Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group, according to the Clarion Project.

The terror group claims that the fires are a reprisal for Israel’s “occupation” of what they say are Palestinian lands.

Nineteen firefighters have been killed while fighting the blaze.

“We had previously announced an unconventional war against the occupation state of Israel, and then we escalated this war to reach its main supporter, America, so that it receives a major share of it, which will destroy their flora and fauna, with permission from Allah and then with our hands,” the group said, according to Clarion and SITE.

Masada al-Mujahideen is apparently a legitimate jihadist group, not a cut-out for another organization. The Long War Journal has this to say about them:

Masada al Mujahideen announced its formation in April 2008 and said its leader is Abu Omar al Ansari, according to SITE. The terror group has claimed numerous attacks against Israel, including rocket and mortar attacks. The group has also claimed credit for setting numerous fires inside Israel, and even an arson attack in Nevada.

Masada al Mujahideen also eulogized Osama bin Laden immediately after he was killed by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. “Although Sheikh Osama has been killed, his creed will not be killed, and the whole Ummah, Allah willing, is Osama bin Laden. We do not say that as hyperbole, for you see with your own eyes and acknowledge with your own mouths that most of the jihadi groups in the world have come to follow his example, method and creed,” the group said in a statement that was translated by SITE.

Masada al Mujahideen also eulogized Atiyah Abd al Rahman, a top al Qaeda leader who was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan, in August 2011. “He was truly one of the well-known people of jihad and a bright star in the sky of knowledge,” the group said in a statement translated by SITE.

It’s possible, of course, that these holy warriors refugees from a medieval insane asylum are lying about Arizona and are just claiming credit to up their standing in the world of brave knights of Islam medieval psychos. America seems a long way to come for a small terrorist outfit, when Israel is right next door.

But when you read the United Nations report on the porous US-Mexican border, “A Global Pathway to the USA;” when you recall that Hizbullah, Hamas, and al Qaeda are all trying to set up operations in the Western hemisphere; and when you keep in mind geography

Well, the possibility that Masada al Mujahideen really did set the fires that killed 19 American firefighters and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses doesn’t seem so inconceivable after all, does it?

If we can establish to our satisfaction they did do this, then we should hunt them down and kill them all. This isn’t a criminal matter; by their own declaration, this is jihad fi sabil allah, “holy war.” And in that case, we should show them exactly how real war is fought.

Meanwhile, this news demonstrates again why border security is more than just an immigration issue — it’s a matter of national security.

UPDATE: Reader Crosspatch reports that the cause of the Arizona fire was described as lightning.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Border control: This reassures me. Not. Update: Napolitano 2016?

February 4, 2013

At the moment I consider myself agnostic about the latest immigration proposal, this time from a bipartisan group of senators including Marco Rubio (R-FL). We all know the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli plan was a bust, because the promised border security arrangements were never implemented. And there are serious questions in this latest proposal: J. Christian Adams raises a few good ones. On the other hand, Rubio has promised to withdraw his support for the bill, should the border security provisions not be adequate.

One good sign they won’t be is just who gets to determine when and if the border is secure: Janet Napolitano.

Under a bipartisan Senate framework, Democrats say, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would have final say over whether the border is secure enough to put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

If Napolitano does not provide the green light for putting illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, the responsibility for judging whether the metrics for border security have been met will be given to her successor.

This is the same idiot who declared, after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit was stopped by an alert passenger at the last minute, that “the system worked.” And she’s to be put in charge of determining when the border is secure? What’s her criteria, tea-leaf readings?

And, to be blunt, I wouldn’t trust any politically appointed official in the Obama administration to make an objective call; the self-interest of the president’s party means that they have an interest in granting citizenship as soon as possible and as fast as possible to as many Latin American immigrants as possible, because they are more likely to vote Democratic. The pressure on Napolitano to declare the border secure ASAP would be tremendous. (Not that it would take much, as Janet has shown herself to be a willing tool.)

If this provision stays in the bill, I’d advise Senator Rubio to have a press release handy announcing his opposition.

via Bryan Preston

UPDATE: Janet Napolitano is thinking of running for president in 2016? Seriously??

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mexico arrests two in Arizona Border Patrol killing

October 4, 2012

No word on whether any weapons were recovered or, if there were, if they’ve been tied to Fast and Furious, but it’s nice to see some suspects brought in quickly:

Mexican troops have arrested two suspects in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the wounding of a second officer in Arizona, Mexican security officials said on Wednesday. [T]he two suspects were detained in a Mexican military operation in the city of Agua Prieta, in Mexico’s northern Sonora state, a few miles from the spot where Nicholas Ivie was shot dead early on Tuesday while responding to a tripped ground sensor, a Mexican Army officer, who declined to be named.

Ivie was among three agents who were patrolling on foot about five miles north of the international border when gunfire erupted. A second agent was also wounded while the third, a woman, was unharmed.  

The agents had been patrolling in an area near the border town of Naco, well-known as a corridor for smuggling, and the Cochise County Sheriff’s department has said that tracks were found heading south after the shooting.

Ivie was a 30-year-old father of two, he had been an agent for four years.

A Mexican police official in Naco, across the border from the Arizona town of the same name, confirmed the arrests, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday.

(Link added)

US officials have had no comment on the arrests. If I were a cynic, I might think that’s because they’re desperately looking for an OF&F connection they can bury.

But we all know I’m not a cynic, right?

Meanwhile, thanks and congratulations to the Mexican Army for quick work. It will be interesting to see what stories these suspects have to tell.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


One Border Patrol agent killed, another wounded in Arizona border shooting

October 2, 2012

One agent was shot dead, another wounded, and a third escaped unharmed while on horseback patrol in southeast Arizona:

Two U.S. Border Patrol agents were shot, one fatally, Tuesday morning in an area in south Arizona known as a major drug-smuggling corridor, authorities said.

The identities of the agents were not immediately released, but the shooting occurred at the Brian Terry Station near Naco, Ariz., which is just south of Tucson. The station was named after an agent who was killed in the line of duty in December 2010. The area is considered a remote part of the state and sources tell Fox News that the shooting occurred at 1:50 a.m. local time and about 8 miles from the border.

The agents who were shot were on patrol with a third agent, who was not harmed, according to George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing about 17,000 border patrol agents. The agents were on horseback at the time of the shooting.

McCubbin said he had no further information regarding the shooting.

The shooting occurred after an alarm was triggered on one of the many sensors along the border and the three agents went to investigate, said Cochise County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas.

Public Service Announcement: According to the President of the United States and the Director of Homeland Security, the Mexican border is more secure than ever. Nothing to see here, move along…

The FBI and local sheriffs are conducting a joint investigation –on horseback, because the terrain is so rugged– but, let’s be honest. The maggots who did this are either back in Mexico or halfway to New York by now.

There’s no word on who did this or why, or whether the weapons used were courtesy of the Department of Justice, but this incident serves as a reminder of just how dangerous our southern border has become, particularly in Arizona; Naco isn’t all that far from Douglas, near where rancher Robert Krentz and his dog were gunned down.

Tomorrow night is the first of three debates between President Obama and Governor Romney, and the focus is on “domestic issues.” Border security would be a good topic for the Governor to raise; when Phoenix becomes the kidnapping capital and Americans are warned against entering sovereign American territory and residents have to live in fear of possibly-armed people crossing their land, I’d call that a “domestic issue.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The jihad in Mexico

May 26, 2012

Writing at the Gatestone Institute site, Raymond Ibrahim details the continuing efforts of Hizbullah and its Iranian paymasters, as well as al Qaeda, to strike at the United States through our porous border using a combination of missionary work and alliance with the drug cartels:

According to a 2010 report, “Close to home: Hezbollah terrorists are plotting right on the U.S. border,” which appeared in the NY Daily News:

“Mexican authorities have rolled up a Hezbollah network being built in Tijuana, right across the border from Texas and closer to American homes than the terrorist hideouts in the Bekaa Valley are to Israel. Its goal, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper that reported on the investigation: to strike targets in Israel and the West. Over the years, Hezbollah—rich with Iranian oil money and narcocash—has generated revenue by cozying up with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs and people into the U.S. In this, it has shadowed the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran, which has been forging close ties with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who in turn supports the narcoterrorist organization FARC, which wreaks all kinds of havoc throughout the region.”

Another 2010 article appearing in the Washington Times asserts that, “with fresh evidence of Hezbollah activity just south of the border [in Mexico], and numerous reports of Muslims from various countries posing as Mexicans and crossing into the United States from Mexico, our porous southern border is a national security nightmare waiting to happen.” This is in keeping with a recent study done by Georgetown University, which revealed that the number of immigrants from Lebanon and Syria living in Mexico exceeds 200,000. Syria, along with Iran, is one of Hezbollah’s strongest financial and political supporters, and Lebanon is the immigrants’ country of origin.

A jihadist cell in Mexico was recently found to have a weapons cache of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and antitank munitions. The weapons, it turned out, had been smuggled by Muslims from Iraq. According to this report, “obvious concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah’s presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) operating along the U.S.—Mexico border.”

And it’s not just arms-smuggling and infiltration of Arab jihadis that we need to worry about; jihadist organizations are working hard to covert disaffected Mexicans to Salafist Islam:

Long a bastion of Catholicism, southern Mexico is quickly turning into a battleground for soul-savers. Islam, too, is gaining a foothold and the indigenous Mayans are converting by the hundreds. The Mexican government is worried about a culture clash in their own backyard… Muslim women in headscarves have become a common sight….

The Maya regions, particularly Yucatan, have long been a problem for Mexico City. An uprising there lasted from 1847-1901. A century later, will they face an intifada of their own?

Securing the border, as far as is practical, is essential. That doesn’t mean seal it, which would be impossible, but we need far better control over who crosses and why. And intelligence cooperation with the Mexicans, already underway against the cartels, needs to be expanded against the jihadists who seek to exploit our southern neighbor’s problems to get at us.

As Fausta puts it, “border security is national security“.

Because they’re still trying to kill us.

RELATED: An earlier post I wrote on Hizbullah in Tijuana, and Hamas getting in on the act.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Dear Iran: “Of course you know, this means war!” — Updated

October 12, 2011

Or, it would, if we had an administration with the spine of a Warner Bros. cartoon character.

ABC broke the news yesterday of an Iranian assassination plot foiled by the FBI and the DEA:

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents.

The DEA office in Houston brought in FBI agents as the international terror implications of the case became apparent.

The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being “directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government,” including a cousin who was “a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform,” according to a person briefed on the details of the case.

Arbabsiar and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts. Shakuri is still at large in Iran, Holder said.

Holder identified Shakuri as an Iran-based member of the Quds force, a much feared special unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The Treasury sanctions named several other members of the Iranian Quds force as well.

Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, expressed “utter disregard for collateral damage” in the planned bomb attacks in Washington, according to officials.

The complaint describes a conversation in which Arbabsiar was allegedly directing the informant to kill the Saudi ambassador and said the assassination could take place at a restaurant. When the informant feigned concern about Americans who also eat at the restaurant, Arbabsiar said he preferred if bystanders weren’t killed but, “Sometimes, you know, you have no choice, is that right?”

BTW, that same restaurant is known to be frequented by US senators. But, hey, sometimes “you have no choice.” Argentina was also discussed as a target, a country Iran has attacked before in their desire to kill Jews.

There’s no doubt this is a casus belli — “a cause of war.” The Iranian government has been caught red-handed organizing a terrorist operation on US soil, an operation that would not only have killed foreigners under our protection but, very likely, American citizens. And the flippant dismissal of the prospect of killing government officials makes this an attack on our government, too. While there’s no direct evidence that Khamenei or Ahmadinejad knew about this in advance, well… yeah, right. Their prime foreign covert operations agency, the Quds Force, plans an attack on the territory of the Great Satan (that’s us), and the Big Nuts in the Iranian fruitcake don’t know about it?

Like I said, “yeah, right.”

But, don’t worry, the Obama Administration is not planning any military retaliation, true to its “September 10th” values:

That a foreign government would plot to kill a foreign leader on American soil could be seen as an act of war, but Obama administration officials say the path the U.S. government will purse will align with American interests – and a military response and possible armed conflict with a third Muslim nation would not be part of that. (Though, it should be noted, the official White House position is “no option is off the table.”)

This afternoon the Treasury Department announced further sanctions against Iran, and in coming days diplomats at the United Nations and elsewhere will discuss further ways to isolate Iran, while American officials will spread far and wide throughout the region that the Iranian government was planning to kill an Arab leader.

In other words, we’re going to treat this as a law-enforcement matter, lay down sanctions, and run around telling the Arabs what they already know: that the mullahs are a bunch of dangerous psychos.

That’ll have Tehran quaking in its boots. Probably from laughing at us.

It may seem odd for me to quote Osama bin Laden, but one thing he said was very true, at least as far as life in the Muslim world goes:

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

This is us playing the weak horse, whining when someone uses our land to carry out terror attacks. Other dictators around the world (and the people who have to live under or near them) will see this and act accordingly, as Iraq is now doing.

Let’s be honest: Iran has been at war with us since 1979, but we’ve failed to recognize this and act accordingly. Even a president as great as Reagan had a blind spot when it came to Iran and thought he could reach a grand bargain, and Bush failed to take strong action against Syria and Iran when they sponsored the guerrilla war against us in Iraq from 2004-2008. So Obama isn’t the first to naively believe that restraint would be seen as anything other than weakness.

But it’s time for it to stop.

The naked truth is that Iran is killing our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter. Their puppets Hizbullah and Hamas attack our ally, Israel. They are waging war against us (this attack was meant as much to humiliate us as to strike at the Saudis) and have taken that war to our homeland.  It’s time to stop wagging our fingers in disapproval and instead punch back — hard.

Lest someone accuse me of being a warmonger, I’m not advocating invading Iran or sinking their navy in retaliation, as emotionally satisfying as that might be. We don’t have to in order to defeat them. As Michael Ledeen has often pointed out (most recently here), the Iranian regime’s grip on power is brittle; their people hate them; they face frequent rebellion and acts of sabotage. If we simply had the moral clarity and political courage to provide the peoples of Iran with the political, propaganda, and logistical support to wage their own struggle against the tyrants, as Reagan did in Poland against the Soviets, we could win without firing a shot.

Instead, we do the diplomatic equivalent of writing them a speeding ticket.

That’s no way to win a war.

CYNICAL THOUGHT: Funny how this news breaks just as AG Holder and the administration are facing close scrutiny for the Gunwalker scandal. There’s no evidence I’ve seen that this plot had gone operational and had to be stopped now. Hmmm….

LINKS: Three must-read articles at The Long War Journal and Threat Matrix. JustOneMinute thinks Holder learned a lesson. Fausta talks about the mounting threat in Latin America from Hizbullah, an Iranian cats-paw. Let’s not forget, the Iranians tried to run this plot through Mexican drug cartels. Still think that border is secure, Mr. President? Power Line notes the “axis of evil” between Iran and Los Zetas. This isn’t just about immigration — this is a national security issue.

UPDATE: Former federal prosecutor (And no fan of Obama and Holder) Andy McCarthy puts my cynical thought to rest — a frame-up makes no sense.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Forget “Where’s Waldo.” Where’s Muhammad?

September 27, 2011

I bet this news from PJM’s Patrick Poole will make you all feel safe and secure:

Two Bangladeshis who were caught by Customs and Border Protection illegally crossing the border in June 2010 admitted under questioning that they were members of a designated terrorist organization that signed on to a fatwa by Osama bin Laden pledging to wage war against Americans.

But amazingly, after one of the men requested asylum, he was released on bond. And now one Homeland Security official tells me, concerning the released terror operative, “We don’t have the slightest idea where he is now.”

The two men, Muhammad Nazmul Hasan and Mirza Muhammad Saifuddin, were intercepted near Naco, Arizona, not long after they had crossed the border on June 25, 2010. During their interrogation, one of the men admitted that they were members of Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in February 2008. Earlier this month the group claimed responsibility for a bombing a courthouse in New Delhi. That attack killed 11 and wounded at least 45 others.

(Emphasis added.)

Reading this, one’s first reaction is probably a hearty “WTF?” and some choice words about the competence of the Border Patrol and the courts for allowing an admitted terrorist to walk on bail, something that defies common sense.

But it’s not the agencies’ actions that run contrary to wisdom, but the law itself. While Poole doesn’t go into detail about the relevant laws, I’m willing to bet existing statutes, reflecting a pre-September 11th mentality that treats terrorism as a law-enforcement problem, left the CBP and the court with little choice — once the Bangladeshi jihadist invoked the laws of asylum, the relevant officials were obliged to obey them. And because no one is mandated to keep track of asylum-seekers out on bail, this Al Qaeda ally walked out the door and vanished into an Arizona sunset, never to be heard from again, until… ?

More than ten years after 9/11, it’s way past the time that our laws were updated to reflect a time of war and potentially catastrophic terrorism. At a minimum, people who admit to belonging to organizations allied to our deadly enemy should be held without bail; more properly, since we’re dealing with terrorist operatives, they should be transferred to military custody and their cases decided by a military commission. We’re not talking about people sneaking into America looking for a better life; these are people sneaking into America to take lives.

As Poole points out, the southern border is the preferred route for people seeking illegal entry into the United States, and, regardless of what President Obama claims, that border is not secure. It’s clear Obama and the Democrats won’t do a thing to genuinely control it, in spite of the obvious threat to national security (1), so it will be up to the next, hopefully adult, administration.

Meanwhile, don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find the missing Bangladeshi jihadi… right after the car-bomb goes off.

Footnote:
(1) You know, that thing that really is one of the assigned duties of the federal government. But they have more important things to do, like regulating which light bulbs you can buy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mexican police operating from US soil

August 27, 2011

At some point, someone in authority is going to have to admit there is a war going on in Mexico and that our national security is at stake, because we’re already fighting it:

The Obama administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials.

Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the United States, assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the American side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics.

Officials said these so-called boomerang operations were intended to evade the surveillance — and corrupting influences — of the criminal organizations that closely monitor the movements of security forces inside Mexico. And they said the efforts were meant to provide settings with tight security for American and Mexican law enforcement officers to collaborate in their pursuit of criminals who operate on both sides of the border.

Although the operations remain rare, they are part of a broadening American campaign aimed at blunting the power of Mexican cartels that have built criminal networks spanning the world and have started a wave of violence in Mexico that has left more than 35,000 people dead.

Many aspects of the campaign remain secret, because of legal and political sensitivities. But in recent months, details have begun to emerge, revealing efforts that would have been unthinkable five years ago. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, who was elected in 2006, has broken with his country’s historic suspicion of the United States and has enlisted Washington’s help in defeating the cartels, a central priority for his government.

American Predator and Global Hawk drones now fly deep over Mexico to capture video of drug production facilities and smuggling routes. Manned American aircraft fly over Mexican targets to eavesdrop on cellphone communications. And the D.E.A. has set up an intelligence outpost — staffed by Central Intelligence Agency operatives and retired American military personnel — on a Mexican military base.

Two things I’ll say about this. The first is that I’m glad it’s happening. For too long Mexico has hidden behind a chest-thumping nationalism (1) and refused almost any serious cooperation. That the Calderon administration is changing this policy, albeit quietly, at great political risk to itself shows they recognize the serious problem they have, that it’s also a military and no longer just a law-enforcement problem, and that they need help. While Mexico is not yet a failed state, the danger signs are there.

Second, while I’m glad we’re cooperating with the Mexicans and giving them help, it would be really nice if our own government would admit there is a serious security problem on our southern border and make a credible effort to secure it, including fencing where appropriate and Border Patrol forward operating bases (FOBs) in others.

And if the US government really wants to help Mexico, maybe it should stop helping to arm the cartels.

So, when do we resume cavalry patrols?

via Big Peace

Footnotes:
(1) Just because of that little dust-up in 1846 that cost them half their country. Jeez, what grouches.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


OMG! Laredo invaded!!

August 8, 2011

This time (1), by a Mexican Army helicopter that got a wee bit lost:

A Mexican military helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport by mistake, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mucia Dovalina, the uniform public affairs officer for the Laredo Port of Entry, said the helicopter landed about 3 p.m., but she couldn’t share details such as the number of occupants or whether they were armed.

Dovalina said that, following protocol, CBP officers checked out the helicopter’s occupants, then allowed them to return to Mexico in the aircraft.

“The only thing that I can tell you is that they did land here,” she said. “It was by mistake. They were processed and they were returned to Mexico.”

As the article points out, this isn’t the first time the Mexican Army has crossed the border. This time the incident seems far less suspicious; the Mexican government was concluding armed operations against the Zetas cartel in a region near the poorly demarcated border, and these chuckleheads just lost their bearings. No harm, no foul, and so CBP sent them home.

Besides, they should know that the only proper way is to sneak across at night, like everyone else does.

Footnote:
(1) Referring to last summer’s near-panic on the on Internet on reading  rumors that ranches near Laredo had been taken over by the Zetas, rumors fed by  shoddy journalism and bloggers who should have known better.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: the scandal that breaks the Obama administration?

June 14, 2011

I’ve said for a long time that I think Eric Holder is the worst Attorney General since the wretched A. Mitchell Palmer (1) and should be forced to resign or be impeached. From his failure to protect voting rights on a color-blind basis to his vindictive persecution of CIA interrogators questioning al Qaeda terrorists and his incompetence in handling the trials of terrorists, he’s not just incompetent — he’s doing genuine harm.

But it appears the scandal that may finally bring Holder down (and his boss?) is one that’s been simmering on the backburner for months and is only now coming to a boil: Operation “Fast and Furious,” aka “Gunwalker,” a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms plan to trace the flow of firearms to Mexican drug cartels by letting US gun-dealers sell them the weapons.

What could go wrong?

At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens (aka “Confederate Yankee“) looks at the forthcoming hearings, reviews the fatal results of Gunwalker, and concludes Obama and Holder have plenty of reason to stonewall Congress:

Rumors began to fly over a week ago that a .50 BMG weapon supplied to Mexican drug cartels by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) was used to bring down a Mexican military helicopter in May. According to CBS News, the use of that weapon can be confirmed, and it turns out the helicopter was one of two  fired upon by suspected cartel members.

The raid on the cartel that the helicopters were supporting was successful, netting more than 70 weapons, including the helicopter-down .50 BMG rifle and other weapons traced back to the botched ATF Operation Fast and Furious, also know as “Gunwalker.”

To date, the ATF operation, which encouraged gun shops in the American southwest to sell weapons to suspected criminals and let them carry the weapons across the border, has resulted in an estimated 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and soldiers shot  with ATF-supplied weapons. While the theory behind the plot was different, the end result is no more deplorable than Iran’s arming of Iraqi terrorists.

At least two American law enforcement officers have been murdered with ATF weapons as well. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry  was killed with “Gunwalker” firearms in Arizona, while ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata  was killed in an ambush in Mexico with a gun the ATF allowed to be sold to a cartel gun smuggler in Dallas.

The damning evidence that the U.S. Department of Justice agency is a major supplier of cartel weapons will go in front of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week, in what could be a damning indictment of the ATF’s senior leadership and Eric Holder’s leadership of the Department of Justice.

Attorney General Holder has apparently ordered the DOJ to fight Congressional oversight, with the DOJ and ATF ignoring seven letters and a subpoena  from the committee. Neither Holder nor ATF Director Ken Melson will answer questions — which may lead to them being held in contempt of Congress.

Be sure to read the rest.

One can see why Holder would want to keep information from the House committee: if true, it reveals a mind-boggling level of stupidity and possibly criminal recklessness at ATF and Justice that has lead to the deaths of people on both sides of the border.

Owens hints at a hidden agenda behind the program, and one wonders if he isn’t on to something. Obama, as well as the Left in general, have long been advocates of strict gun-control, regardless of the plain meaning of the Second Amendment. Encountering resistance from the gun-rights lobby and conservatives in Congress, the administration has even worked to circumvent the Second Amendment via international treaty. The President has regularly lied about the role of US firearms in Mexico’s violence, far exaggerating their numbers. Could it be that one of the “side benefits” of Gunwalker was to provide more “ammunition” for the administration’s gun-control agenda?

I’d hate to think that was the case, but it can’t be completely discounted, either.

And that leads to the other reason Holder might rather risk a contempt citation at this week’s hearings than tell the truth: if Obama knew of this plan in advance and approved of it or at least didn’t stop it, or if he found out about it afterwards and didn’t do anything about it, then he bears responsibility for an operation that has cost the lives of US and Mexican federal agents and armed dangerous gangs allied with our declared enemies. It could easily be a fatal blow to his reelection chances.

Which means it’s time to ask The Question: What did the President know, and when did he know it?

BACKGROUND: CBS, in particular reporter Sharyl Attkisson, has been doing yeoman work on this story from its earliest days, reminding us of what the MSM used to be. Here’s one of her first reports. The whole series of articles is here.

RELATED: The Diplomad draws a connection from the ATF to… Thor Heyerdahl?

Footnotes:

(1) Hmm… Also appointed by a progressive Democrat president. I detect a pattern.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


But… But… But Obama said the border was secure!

May 22, 2011

You probably remember Obama’s recent trip to Texas in which, during a speech in El Paso, he mocked, derided, and demagogued the legitimate concerns of those worried about the security of our southern border. He went so far as to claim his administration had done more than any before it to meet those concerns:

But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of Janet [Napolitano] and Alan [Bersin] and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns. Under their leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents at the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history.

So, see? There’s nothing to be concerned about. The border is safe! And pay no attention to those drug-cartel outposts inside Arizona:

Hiking through rough Arizona desert terrain a few miles north of the Mexican border recently with a group of armed DEA agents, we were approached by a lone U.S. Border Patrol agent. He warned we should be careful up ahead, because two people believed to be spotters for a Mexican drug cartel had just been seen running down a ridge to elude U.S. authorities.

By now, agents told us, the men were probably hunkered down in a cave or crevice to wait out the patrol. But just to be safe, the DEA agents spread out to cover more ground as they moved forward again, watching closely for the suspected Mexican surveillance team likely sent by drug traffickers to spy on American law enforcement officials on their own soil.

Making our way slowly to the rugged hilltops about a mile away, we came across several caves carved out of the rock by wind and rain. On the floor of one of them, we saw clear evidence that a surveillance team had been camping out. Two blankets were spread out next to a pair of shoes. Nearby were boxes of food, tarps, water jugs, toothpaste and a portable stove, on top of which was a pan with fresh cooking oil still in it.

Agents also found radio chargers and car batteries used to power communications gear. They told NBC producer-photographer Al Henkel and me that Mexican surveillance teams will work in these mountains for 30 to 60 days at a time.

“They locate themselves up on these ridgelines, up in caves, hidey holes, ‘spider holes’ we call them,” said DEA agent Todd Scott. He and the agents wondered if this particular “spider hole” was home to the two men just seen running away.

The report goes on to estimate there are 200-300 spotters operating in Arizona as far north as Phoenix and using military-grade gear to track US law enforcement movements and talk to each other in a sophisticated operation. Here’s a video report:

But, don’t worry; the border is safe.

Obama said so.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Creative smuggling: We build a fence, they fly over it

April 29, 2011

Cartel smugglers may be walking pustules who profit by selling poison and wreak havoc on their own nation(1), but give hem credit for adaptability: Border-control advocates have been screaming for years about building a fence along the Mexican border? Fine The drug-smugglers will just find another way across — or over:

The visiting British pilots were training near a naval air station one night this month when their helicopter came within about 150 feet of an ultralight plane flying without lights. The ultralight darted away toward Mexico without a trace.

The near-disaster over the Southern California desert was an example of drug smugglers using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico.

And in a new twist, the planes rarely touch the ground. Pilots simply pull levers that drop aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks. Within a few minutes, the pilots are back in Mexico.

“It’s like dropping a bomb from an aircraft,” said Jeffrey Calhoon, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, which stretches through alfalfa farms, desert scrub and sand dunes in southeast California.

The Border Patrol has erected hundreds of miles of fences and vehicle barriers along the border and added thousands of new agents, so drug smugglers are going over, under and around.

I particularly like the “bombing run” aspect.

While the use of ultra-lights is perhaps the most unusual development in the chess match along the border, it’s not the only one: cartel smugglers also use tunnels under the border and boats on the Pacific coast to go around it.

In one sense, it’s an illustration of markets in action: with demand so high in the US, the cartels are going to do their darnedest to make sure they get their goods to the buyers.

Move and counter, thrust and parry.

AFTERTHOUGHT: If drugs are being passed over the border via ultralight, what –or who– else is making it across?

TANGENT:

(1) In fact, that’s just what they are.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizbullah: the boys in Brazil

April 6, 2011

It’s been noted before by myself and others that our porous southern border poses not only a problem of illegal immigration, but an avenue of opportunity for terrorists trying to get into the United States.  Hamas has been trying to set up operations in Mexico, Hizbullah has become involved in the Colombian drug trade, and an Iranian book celebrating suicide bombers was found in the Arizona desert, probably not dropped by a Mexican looking for day-work in Phoenix.

Now comes word via a Brazilian periodical that al Qaeda operatives are in Brazil, plotting and organizing:

Al Qaeda operatives are in Brazil planning attacks, raising money and recruiting followers, a leading news magazine reported Saturday, renewing concerns about the nation serving as a hide-out for Islamic militants.

Veja magazine, in its online edition, reported that at least 20 people affiliated with al Qaeda as well as the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, the Palestinian group Hamas and two other organizations have been hiding out in the South American country.

The magazine said these operatives have been raising money and working to incite attacks abroad. The magazine cited Brazilian police and U.S. government reports, but did not give details on specific targets or operations.

This isn’t the first word we’ve had of Islamic jihadists in South America, of course. As the article mentions, the United States has long believed that the lawless area where the Brazilian, Paraguayan, and Argentine borders meet harbored terrorists and Iranian agents. But this latest news from Brazil is a salutary reminder that our enemies are not just in the Hindu Kush: they are much closer, they are making plans, and we are a very likely target. (Though not the only one…)

via Fausta, who provides links to articles about the activities of Hamas and Hizbullah in the land of the samba, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Band of (Illegal) Brothers?

March 23, 2011

Call it a gut feeling, but my hunch is that this odd incident is more a reflection of clever stupidity than anything menacing:

13 Illegal Immigrants Arrested in California Wearing U.S. Marine Uniforms

Border Patrol agents recently arrested 13 illegal immigrants disguised as U.S. Marines and riding in a fake military van, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.

The illegal immigrants were clad in Marine uniforms when they were apprehended at the Campo Border Patrol Westbound I-8 checkpoint at 11 p.m. on March 14 near Pine Valley, Calif., border officials said. Two U.S. citizens in the van also were arrested.

Pine Valley is just east of San Diego.

Like I said, “clever.” There’s a big military presence around San Diego, and there are a lot of Hispanics in the military, so seeing a bunch of Hispanic US Marines being transported from one place to another wouldn’t be too odd.

But what was the “stupid” part, you ask?

The name labels on their uniforms all read “Perez.”

D’oh! 

via The Jawa Report, which has video.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why are Mexican troops conducting searches on our side of the border?

February 17, 2011

Via KRGV TV, Texas:

What you see is the international boundary that separates the United States from Mexico and what authorities on this side of the border seem to think is a truck packed with armed men crossing into the United States. The video clearly shows a large military-transport vehicle drive north on the Anzalduas bridge over the international boundary.

We counted at least a dozen armed men in the back of the truck. The vehicle travels down the bridge toward the U.S. Customs checkpoint. Its driver makes a U-turn just before reaching the lines of cars there. It then starts back south toward Mexico. The men pull over and search a vehicle for a few minutes then resume their trek south. The presumed soldiers then cross back over the boundary toward Mexico.

The video is very interesting.

If they had come near the checkpoint and turned around to head straight back home, I’d have said this was an honest mistake — no harm, no foul. But they stopped a vehicle and searched it on our side of the border, when they had to have known they were on the wrong side. That tells me they knew exactly what they were doing.

This isn’t the first time Mexican troops have crossed the border, of course. It’s happened in Arizona, California, and New Mexico. In the last case, they appeared to be trying to collect on a bounty offered by a cartel boss for the capture of a Border Patrol  agent.

The question is whether this incident on the Anzalduas bridge was an authorized crossing or not — or even, as the New Mexico case suggests, a rogue operation not ordered by Mexican authorities.  There’s no way of knowing from the video, and the Mexican denial that anything occurred could mean either that they were covering their own actions, or were caught by surprise, too. That much, at least, is a Rumsfeldian “known unknown.”

What we do know, however, is that armed forces of another nation cross into our territory with some regularity. The American public has a right to know whether this is with US permission and why such permission has been granted. Is it some sort of a cooperation agreement?

This would controversial enough, even if there is  some sort of joint program. But, if there is none, if foreign troops are crossing onto our soil without our permission, well, that is an act of war, regardless of how many are involved. And who were those people in the vehicle stopped by Mexican forces? Were they Mexican citizens? Were they Americans? Are Americans being stopped and questioned by a foreign military in our territory? The problems apparently dates back before the Obama administration (Who knows how far?), but they’re the ones responsible now.  The Texas congressional delegation, especially in the House, might want to start asking some very pointed questions about why these incursions are happening and why the Mexican government hasn’t been told “ya basta!”

hat tip: The Tatler

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Arizona to Fed: “You sue me and I’ll sue you. Criss-cross”

February 11, 2011

Last year, the federal government filed suit against the state of Arizona to block enforcement of Arizona’s controversial* SB 1070 bill, that required Arizona law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, since Washington apparently refused to do so itself.

Now Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has fired back, suing Washington for failing to protect Arizona from invasion:

Arizona Governor Janice Brewer, in a filing today in federal court in Phoenix, accuses the U.S. government of failing to maintain operational control of the state’s border with Mexico, failing to protect it from invasion and violence and failing to enforce federal immigration laws.

“The federal government has effectively conceded its inability to protect Arizona and its citizens from criminal activities associated with illegal aliens,” Brewer said in the filing. “Within the last year, the federal government placed warning signs in the desert 80 miles north of the border and only 30 miles south of Phoenix warning people to stay away from the area.”

I believe Brewer is  relying on Article 4, Section 4 of the US Constitution:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Emphasis added.

Arizona has at least an arguable case, since the warning signs can be colored as refusal to defend a state’s territory and perhaps even a renunciation of sovereignty in those places. (Hey, if the government is telling citizens it cannot protect them on American soil, is it still American soil?)

On the other hand, an originalist interpretation of the relevant clause would probably** find that the Founders meant invasion by an army wielded by another sovereign power, and hence did not apply in this case. While the border problem is serious, the cartels are not sovereign powers (yet).

On the other-other hand, the 18th-century authors had experience of war on their frontiers with the Indian tribes — though they were treated as sovereign nations for legal purposes, so, forget that. Maybe a better originalist argument in favor of Arizona’s suit would be piracy, which colonies-turned-states had plenty of experience with. Surely the governors back then would have demanded federal help if pirates were raiding their coasts.

So, it’s a dicey proposition. Emotionally, I’m sick of the Fed not doing the things it is supposed to do, while refusing to do the jobs it’s charged with — such as border control. But, my gut feeling is that a judge will rule against the state. We’ll see.

*To open-border advocates, the ethnic grievance industry, and those they sucker

**In other words, I’m making a wild-arsed guess.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Things that make me feel oh-so-secure

February 2, 2011

Several items fall under this category, today, but let’s start with the best, first: a previously unknown al Qaeda cell in Los Angeles, just before 9-11.

The FBI has launched a manhunt for a previously unknown team of men suspected to be part of the 9/11 attacks, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Secret documents reveal that the three Qatari men conducted surveillance on the targets, provided “support” to the plotters and had tickets for a flight to Washington on the eve of the atrocities.

The suspected terrorists flew from London to New York on a British Airways flight three weeks before the attacks.

They allegedly carried out surveillance at the World Trade Centre, the White House and in Virginia, the US state where the Pentagon and CIA headquarters are located.

Ten days later they flew to Los Angeles, where they stationed themselves in a hotel near the airport which the FBI has now established was paid for by a “convicted terrorist”, who also paid for their airline tickets.

Hotel staff have told investigators they saw pilot uniforms in their room along with computer print outs detailing pilot names, flight numbers and times and packages addressed to Syria, Afghanistan, Jerusalem and Jordan.

On September 10 they were booked on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, but failed to board. The following day the same Boeing 757 aircraft was hijacked by five terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon.

But, instead of boarding the American flight, the Qatari suspects – named as Meshal Alhajri, Fahad Abdulla and Ali Alfehaid – flew back to London on a British Airways flight before returning to Qatar. Their current location is unknown.

via The Jawa Report.

It’s not known whether these medieval lunatics jihadis were a fifth hijacking crew (remember that my city was the target of a planned second wave — oh, which we learned about thanks only to waterboarding), a backup crew that was pulled out when the cell that attacked the Pentagon confirmed as “ready,”  or “just” an operational support team. What is genuinely disturbing is the article’s implication that, if I understand it right, we didn’t know about these guys except in a very vague way until recently.

Which begs the question: Who else don’t we know about??

Then there’s another revelation from the gift that keeps on giving, Wikileaks. This time, it’s the news that al Qaeda is on the verge of having a dirty bomb, among other fun toys:

Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build “dirty” bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents.

A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a “nuclear 9/11″.

Security briefings suggest that jihadi groups are also close to producing “workable and efficient” biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West.

Thousands of classified American cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe.

At a Nato meeting in January 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of “dirty radioactive IEDs”, makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against British troops in Afghanistan.

As well as causing a large explosion, a “dirty bomb” attack would contaminate the area for many years.

Note to the Vancouver Sun headline writer: there is a huge difference between a “nuclear bomb” and a “dirty bomb.” Scale, for one thing. A true H-bomb wreaks much of its destruction through blast and heat; the fallout is just apocalyptic gravy. The explosive force of a dirty bomb is much smaller — it’s meant to scatter radioactive material over an area, rendering it unusable. But that also makes it a perfect terror-weapon. (Wired has a good article on dirty bombs.) Accuracy, please.

Still, isn’t it comforting to know al Qaeda is close to having one?

via Allahpundit, who in his typical fashion reminds us there are plenty of Pakistani jihadist groups that would want a dirty bomb or two, as well as a Pakistani intelligence service that might be willing to supply them. Charming.

Other reassuring items:

Maybe border-security hawks have a point:

U.S. border authorities have arrested a controversial Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia three years ago and was caught earlier this month trying to sneak into California inside the trunk of a BMW, according to court documents.

Said Jaziri, the former Imam of a Muslim congregation in Montreal, was hidden inside a car driven by a San Diego-area man who was pulled over by U.S. Border Patrol agents near an Indian casino east of San Diego. Jaziri allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a “safe place anywhere in the U.S.”

The arrest marks the unexpected resurfacing of the 43-year-old cleric, whose protracted legal battle to avoid deportation drew headlines in Canada. A Tunisian immigrant, Jaziri was deported for failing to disclose a criminal conviction in France while applying for refugee status in the mid-1990s.

But Jaziri’s supporters said he was targeted for his fundamentalist views: Jaziri backed Sharia law for Canadian Muslims and led protests over the publication of the prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2006.

via Fausta. But… But… But I thought anyone demanding better border control was a racist …er, I mean a RAAAAACIST!! This doesn’t fit the narrative… Help me, Luis Gutierrez!!

And if that isn’t enough, through Jihad Watch we learn:

Iranian Book Celebrating Suicide Bombers Found in Arizona Desert

EXCLUSIVE: A book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the U.S.- Mexican border, authorities tell Fox News.

The book, “In Memory of Our Martyrs,” was spotted Tuesday by a U.S. Border Patrol agent out of the Casa Grande substation who was patrolling a route known for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs.

Published in Iran, it consists of short biographies of Islamic suicide bombers and other Islamic militants who died carrying out attacks.

According to internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection documents, “The book also includes letters from suicide attackers to their families, as well as some of their last wills and testaments.” Each biographical page contains “the terrorist’s name, date of death, and how they died.”

Agents also say that the book appears to have been exposed to weather in the desert “for at least several days or weeks.”

Litterbug. He probably mislaid his dirty bomb, too.

So, you see? We can all relax, safe and content. President Barack “We don’t need no steenkin’ fence”  Obama, Attorney General Eric “Civilian trials for terrorists”  Holder and Homeland Security Director Janet “The system worked” Napolitano are surely on top of things.

If you need me, I’ll be in my bunker.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What happens when you start a war and lose it?

January 18, 2011

That’s the question Sara Carter asks about Mexico in the Washington Examiner:

The violent deaths of nearly 35,000 in Mexico in the past four years symbolize a growing crisis for the United States as its southern neighbor is increasingly destabilized by competing drug organizations that have infiltrated every level of government, according to numerous U.S. officials.

President Felipe Calderon’s efforts to dismantle the drug gangs since taking office in 2006 has increased the number of grisly killings without diminishing the strength of the various criminal groups so far, experts said. That has placed U.S. security and Mexican security at risk.

“Mexico needs to take down the major cartel players or ask for our help to get it done,” said a U.S. official who is familiar with operations in the region. “Mexico is at a crisis point, and the situation is getting worse. We are left with an insecure border controlled by drug cartels, and our ability to limit their operations starts on our side. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough.”

There’s no doubt the situation in Mexico is bad and getting worse; as Carter points out, cartel-war related killings have increased 60% in just a year. The border city of Reynosa actually saw the Mexican Army trapped on its base as rival cartels fought a gun battle in the streets. The State Department has warned Americans to get their children out of Monterrey, because of the danger of kidnapping and being caught in a crossfire. Ciudad Mier is now a ghost town — government control is a sick joke. The discovery of beheaded corpses is now commonplace.

And that anarchy is more and more spilling over the border onto our side, most recently in the murder at Falcon Lake, the killing of a Border Patrol agent, and shots fired at a Hudspeth County, Texas, road crew.

Treating it as a law-enforcement matter looks less viable with each passing day. The corruption of local and state authorities in Mexico is notorious — and often fatal to those seeking redress under the law. It’s even a serious problem at the federal level.

And yet, to ask Lenin’s famous question, what is to be done? President Calderon has already involved the Mexican military, with at best mixed results: Mexican Marines, for example, captured 30 gang members in Reynosa,but then there’s that embarrassing incident with the Army. Should Calderon declare formal state of insurrection, give up any pretense of this being a law-enforcement matter, and go to full-scale war? And, to be blunt, is the Mexican state up to the task?

The anonymous US official cited above hints at more than police cooperation between our two countries, yet US military involvement would be controversial, to say the least. Even if it were limited to intelligence and Special Forces assistance, Mexican pride has been sore ever since that little dust-up between us from 1846-48, and any Mexican president openly acquiescing to US military operations on his country’s soil would pay political Hell for his choice, no matter how logical it may be.

But it may come to that, especially if the violence spills over to our side in ways that even Washington cannot ignore, whether directly or from a flood of refugees.

The risk of Mexico becoming a failed state is a serious problem for us, and it is one that has no good answer.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Shots across the border

January 16, 2011

Mexico’s continuing drug war spilled over into the United States again, when a  road crew in Texas had to flee for their lives as they came under fire from the other side of the border:

Hudspeth County, Texas Sheriff Arvin West confirmed a Hudspeth County road crew came under fire Thursday morning from gunmen in Mexico.

Sheriff West told ABC-7 that around 10:30 a.m, Thursday a road crew was repairing a part of Indian Hot Springs road, just east of Neely’s crossing in Hudspeth County along the US-Mexico border when they came under gunfire from the Mexican side.

The crew was able to escape unharmed and managed to call for help. Units from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Border Patrol and Hudspeth County sheriff’s deputies responded within minutes. They were able to determine the shots came from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande but were unable to spot the actual gunmen.

West added this is the first time county crews have come under direct fire. No one was injured and no equipment was damaged.

This isn’t the first time Americans in the El Paso area have come under fire, whether deliberately or accidentally.

The El Paso Times reports official speculation that this particular incident was caused by cartel gunmen wanting to clear the workers from a smuggling route they were using and notes that the area is a regular trafficking site:

Drug cartels use this busy smuggling corridor in between the Quitman Mountains and mountains in the northwestern part of Chihuahua state to traffic marijuana and sometimes cocaine, Doyle said.

The U.S. government built narrowly spaced steel poles north of the Rio Grande to fence the border in that West Texas area. The slots are not wide enough for people to cross, but small objects can fit between the 15-foot-tall poles.

Perhaps the road crew was in the way of a planned package-passing. Regardless, this will become another bit of evidence for border-security advocates concerned about our porous southern border. But, no fence, barrier, or wall, electronic or physical, is 100% secure. Until Mexico smashes the cartels that have made the rule of law and even Mexican sovereignty in their northern states a joke, there will be more incidents like this.

RELATED: The horrifying must-read story of Ciudad Mier, a Mexican town abandoned because of the drug war. Tell me again that Mexico isn’t a failing state. And 2010 was the bloodiest year in Mexico’s war against the drug cartels, with 15,273 dead. Iraq is safer. (By way of contrast, there were 15,241 murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in 2009 in the United States. This is from all causes, not just an organized crime war.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mexico: mass jail-break

December 19, 2010

No, I’m not talking about the numbers of people who cross our southern border illegally every day, but a genuine escape of over 150 prisoners in Nuevo Laredo:

Mexican security forces are scrambling to catch scores of inmates who broke out of a prison near the US border in a region plagued by drug gang violence.

A total of 151 prisoners escaped on Friday from the penitentiary in Nuevo Laredo, local public security spokesman Hector Walle said, amending earlier counts that said 141 prisoners had escaped.

Investigators have said the inmates left through a service entrance for vehicles and were helped by someone in the prison staff.

The prison warden has gone missing since the breakout, which went unnoticed until a routine head count late Thursday.

I’m not surprised the warden has gone missing; Mexican prison officials are often on the take or in fear of their lives. The choice officials are given is called “plomo o plata,” lead or silver, a bullet or a bribe. For example, the warden of the prison near Torreón was letting gang members come and go to conduct assassinations. In truth, the Sinaloa cartel ran her prison, not her, not the state. I imagine the situation was similar in Nuevo Laredo.

This isn’t just a problem for the Mexican authorities. One has to wonder how many of those 150 convicts fled north across the Rio Grande into Texas.

I’ll bet the residents of nearby Laredo feel real secure, right about now.

RELATED (Kind of): The “Laredo invasion” myth.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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