11 September border incident: Feds once again silent, dismissive of threat

11 September border incident: Feds once again silent, dismissive of threat
Way secure U.S. border fence at the Salinity Canal, San Luis, AZ. (Image via yuma310.com)

Breitbart’s Brandon Darby reported on Sunday that the U.S. Border Patrol was alerted, before dawn on 12 September, to a threatening banner draped on the border fence in southwestern Arizona near San Luis.

According to the Border Patrol incident report, an image of which is posted at Breitbart, the banner was festooned with an anarchist symbol.  Darby’s text indicates that the banner contained an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian message – which would mean that the banner-draper had in mind more than such common “anarchist”-backed resentments as those shopped by La Raza and the Nation of Aztlan radicals.  This banner had an implied Islamist theme and origin.

The banner was placed in an area that can only be reached from the Mexican side of the border.  (See map below for the location of this incident.)

Once again, as Breitbart points out, the U.S. federal government has not reported this to the public.

Map via U.S. Border Patrol depicting path of Salinity Canal at CA-AZ-Mexico border.
Map via U.S. Border Patrol depicting path of Salinity Canal at CA-AZ-Mexico border.

In late August and early September, prior to 9/11, Judicial Watch and Breitbart through separate sources gained federal government information on an ISIS threat developing across the Texas border – a threat that potentially involved the use of car bombs, possibly in El Paso.

As we reported last week, Fort Bliss, located just outside El Paso, was put on a higher state of alert before 9/11.  The stringent security measures implemented were unusual and not associated with previous alert postures for the anniversary of 9/11.  Federal officials, however, denied that there was a credible threat of a potential for Islamist infiltration or attack from Mexico.  Texas sheriffs near the border, meanwhile, had been alerted to the ISIS threat by the state Department of Public Safety.

And in a blog post on 4 September, the Oath Keepers organization provided eyewitness reporting from Texas ranchers and volunteer security helpers on Middle Eastern men being seen – and some of them caught by the Border Patrol – on the eastern Texas border in Cameron County.  (See last link above.)  The interviewees indicated that, according to Border Patrol agents, at least some of the Middle Eastern illegals were disappearing in the system without documentation of their processing.

Late last week, Judicial Watch picked up on another peculiar interlude.  Adam Kredo, writing for the Washington Free Beacon, summarized Senate testimony from Homeland Security official Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis, and noted that Taylor affirmed the intelligence Judicial Watch had gotten from a senior government source about ISIS being in Mexico and plotting attacks in the U.S.

A senior Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed to Congress on Wednesday that militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) are planning to enter the United States via the porous southern border.

Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, told senators during a hearing that ISIL supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.

“There have been Twitter, social media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Taylor told Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in response to a question about “recent reports on Twitter and Facebook of messages that would urge infiltration into the U.S. across our southwestern border.”

John McCain challenged Taylor on our security preparedness during the hearing.  Taylor was reassuring:

“I’m satisfied we have the intelligence and the capability on our border that would prevent that activity,” Taylor said.

This may sound kind of like federal authorities airing their information publicly.  But WFB posted a remarkable update to the Kredo story at 7:28 PM on Wednesday:

Following publication of Francis Taylor’s remarks, a DHS spokesperson contacted the Washington Free Beacon to clarify his comments about the exact threat ISIL poses to the southern border.

“There is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL to attempt to cross the southern border,” the DHS spokesperson said.

As Judicial Watch points out, Taylor’s prepared statement, posted online at the DHS website, is “watered down” (to the extent that it might almost be said to contradict his confirmations of the threat to McCain during the hearing).  Judicial Watch’s summary:

Incredibly the administration continues denying that ISIS presents an imminent threat in the United States, even as information surfaces indicating otherwise.

And that’s the thing.  The information Taylor confirmed in the Senate hearing is intelligence that suggests the likelihood of a plot or plots by ISIS to attempt to cross our southern border.

The denial issued by DHS to WFB is irresponsible.  It’s bad practice: bad government, bad security.  It seems to indicate that the potential threat will be downplayed – even pooh-poohed – by federal authorities unless they have very specific intelligence on an ongoing plot.

That is not a sound basis for security preparedness.  The fact is that we won’t always have specific intelligence, at least not at a point comfortably ahead of time.  Informed citizens are as well aware of that as intelligence, law enforcement, and military experts are.  It’s not a rocket-science security point.  It’s quite basic.  Ignoring the principle that you prepare as if you may not detect the plot well in advance is culpably irresponsible.  Issuing public denials based on that premise is a form of special pleading that is simply inexplicable.

Circling back to the 11-12 September incident with the banner, we need to note a couple of additional things about it.  One is that the widely-used anarchist symbol – a version of which was on the banner at the border – popped up quickly among the Astroturf left’s anti-security counter-protesters in Murrieta, CA back in July.  The symbol is popular with professional radicals (e.g., the usual-suspect organizers of the “Occupy” protests), who are also well-represented in the ranks of the anti-Israel movement.  Very often they are the same people.

Astroturf anarchists showed up almost immediately at the border security protests in Murrieta, CA in July 2014.  Inset shows popular versions of the anarchist symbol.
Astroturf anarchists showed up almost immediately at the border security protests in Murrieta, CA in July 2014. Inset shows popular versions of the anarchist symbol.

The other is that the links between anti-Israel/ “pro-Palestinian” activism and racial-Hispanic/nativist anti-Americanism go deeper than a mere connection through symbols and the mechanical nexus of protest planning.  A linkage has been growing for some time between groups like La Raza and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), on the one hand, and Students for Justice in Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement on the other.

There is a natural affinity among these groups, given their common worldview and political resentments.  For the most part, their M.O. is confined to canned protests, preying on ignorant students in the university, and participating in the grant- and media-enabled business of grievance-mongering.

But the ISM group has also been known to train activists for direct action against authorities (i.e., in Israel).  And top leaders in the Aztlan movement have expressed solidarity and support for armed nativist insurgencies in Mexico like the Popular Revolutionary Army and Zapatista National Liberation Army.  The express intention of the Nation of Aztlan movement is to unite with such groups in a “Reconquista” of the Southwestern United States.

Aztlan brownshirts were another major presence at the Murrieta protests in July.
Aztlan brownshirts were another major presence at the Murrieta protests in July.

The admiration of the Aztlan movement for Hezbollah and Hamas is well documented.  In 2006, the Nation of Aztlan leadership published a policy statement on the “Palestinian-Jewish” issue consonant with a persistent theme over the last 15 years which compares a so-called “occupied Palestine” with a so-called “occupied Aztlan.”

The relative quiet from these groups since Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 is not necessarily a good sign.  We should be more concerned, not less, about whom they may be working with south of the border.

It would be misdirected to suspect foolish undergrads in the U.S. of criminal connections.  But just as the organizers of ISM work directly with the representatives of Hamas (see here as well; an ISM leader has been convicted by U.S. federal authorities of aiding Hamas), it’s quite possible we will eventually find coordination linking nativist insurgencies in Mexico, and even Aztlan groups in the U.S., with the Middle Eastern terrorists who have been surging northward from Central and South America.

The common cause these groups are likely to make is too obvious to be dismissed out of hand.  Now is not too early to be on the watch for it.  Somebody put that banner up, from the Mexican side, with its symbols evoking the overarching themes behind both of the major extant threat strategies against the U.S. border.

The days of assuming that none of this matters, or that none of it can change the reality of American daily lives, are behind us.  As dangers go, it may very well be that the only reason we don’t know this one is clear and present is that we’re not looking in the right place.

* UPDATE bonus *

Very interesting, almost antiseptic summary of the contradictory federal-level reporting at the New York Times on Monday.

Clearly, NYT isn’t getting any direct scoop from Obama administration officials.  It’s just summarizing the other reporting that’s out there.  The reason that’s interesting is that NYT has been the administration’s go-to outlet for disseminating the themes it wants plumped in the media.  Yet it isn’t feeding any “background” themes on the border to NYT right now.   When NYT has that sort of background “disclosure” in hand — it’s really a matter of themes being fed to them — the Newspaper of Record comes down on the side of the administration’s argument.  But the paper obviously has nothing to retail or frame with supportive credulity for the administration on this topic.  So its story just comes off as carefully neutral.  That raises the question for me why the administration is not putting info themes out there through the usual background “disclosures” to NYT.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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