According to testimony before a Senate committee, Islamic State extremists, also known as ISIS and ISIL, have posited the idea of entering the United States through the Mexican border.
Francis X. Taylor, undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, pointed out to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that ISIS militants have been communicating via Twitter about plans to infiltrate the U.S. using the southern border. The comment was made after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., inquired about possible infiltration from the Mexican border. The senator has a history of having a hard stance in support of tightening border security, including building a fence along the border.
When questioned by McCain whether or not the U.S. was capable of stopping infiltration, Taylor, who was a former U.S. coordinator for counterterrorism, noted that the southern border is a major concern for national security. However, he felt confident that border patrol is tight enough to prevent any such intrusion.
McCain pointed out a situation where conservative activist James O’Keefe dressed up as Osama Bin Laden and walked across the Rio Grande River undetected. Taylor claims border patrol officers were aware of O’Keefe’s presence. However, McCain argued they were not and questioned Taylor’s claims of efficient border security.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has ordered a wide-ranging strategy for national security around the Mexican border, formally known as the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Planning effort.
It was noted throughout the committee that ISIL has an interest in harming Americans. A few weeks ago, two American journalists were beheaded by ISIL. All of the speakers, including Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas J. Rasmussen, were skeptical of ISIL’s ability to carry out a significant attack on U.S. soil.
“At present, we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland of the United States,” Johnson said in a press release. “We know ISIL views the United States as an enemy, and we know that ISIL’s leaders have themselves said they will soon be in ‘direct confrontation’ with the United States.”
Currently, there is no indication of added security around the borders. The National Terrorism Advisory System has not issued any alerts in response to ISIL.
According to Johnson’s press release, ISIL commits 30-40 attacks per month, has approximately 10,000 fighters, and brings in as much as $1 million a day from illegal oil sales, smuggling and ransom payments. The vast majority of activity is concentrated in Syria, Iraq and surrounding areas.
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