Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has recently admitted, in regards to the southern border, that terrorists cross into the United States “from time to time.” This admission (uttered like a guilty, habitual wearer of a dunce cap or lazy employee) is what would be expected of such a bureaucrat. After all, this was the same official who affirmed that the White House would continue to meet with Egyptian terrorists; claimed “the system worked,” in regards to the quasi-comical plot of the “underwear bomber”; and appears to be more concerned with right wing-extremists than anything else.
Perhaps it is Napolitano’s own personal concerns that led to her seemingly casual observation, prefaced by the required vague statement. Now, Napolitano’s own definitions of the “right-wing extremists” are much less ambiguous than her statements on the matter at hand. Taking the definitions far beyond the typical humorous fodder of tinfoil hat wearers—whether apocalypse-eager religious radicals, militia members, or mere Montana residents—Napolitano’s Homeland Security produced a report, in 2009, expressing concern of this “right-wing terror” to be particularly dangerous, due to the large presence of “disgruntled veterans,” citizens angered by the election of Barack Obama and the economic downturn, and general concerns about their freedom and country.
But it is this concern with a threat so minimal, in comparison to the threat of Islamic terror groups, that has led to the ignoring of issues of much greater importance to security than any right-wing group would, at the moment, bring. Take, for example, the odd things found on the southern border. In the detainment of those caught trying to enter the United States, the Border Patrol has found substantial numbers of these people coming from Islamic nations. Also, various possessions, typical of nationals of these nations or Muslims, have been found in the border regions (i.e. Korans, prayer rugs, etc.). Now, logically, one must ask, are there some Muslims trying to enter the nation illegally, that have the same intentions as the “average” illegal alien? Logically, yes. But also, logically, there is a great chance that some of them are terrorists as well. And, on this note, Newsmax notes that there have been terrorists apprehended who have entered the United States via the southern border. Keep in mind that these are the people that are caught, as that border is rather porous.
If, then, the entering of terrorists into the United States, from Mexico, is not only a theory, why would Janet Napolitano not address this? Why has this not been addressed? There could be a number of reasons. It could easily be a matter of political correctness, both on the part of being more suspicious of “right-wing extremists” and not wishing to have to view that border—the means for millions of illegal aliens to enter the country. Regardless of why this is the case, there is potential, I see, for something much worse than a few terrorist attacks on American soil—an insurgency.
In discussing this, several things must be taken into account. First, history must be used to shed further light on this possibility. If such an Islamist insurgency was to happen in the United States it would be something closer to the turmoil experienced in Northern Ireland, during the latter half of the Twentieth Century—otherwise known as “the Troubles.” While a complicated conflict, as all are, it is not the origins of it (i.e. tensions between radical Catholic and Protestant groups and the British government), but the literal situation. In this way, we may view the Troubles in Northern Ireland, complete with strife and violence, as a war zone “without the war zone.” There were many of the features of a war zone—soldiers, check points, patrols, bombings, shootings, civilian deaths, and all of the other features—but there is a marked difference when comparing Belfast to Kabul, or Derry to Baghdad. Mainly, it is that in the former areas there is a more covert kind of insurgency, and where, even thought there is destruction and death, the political struggle is also emphasized. The situation in the United States could easily facilitate a bloodier insurgency—as Islamists purposefully attempt to kill civilians en masse.
A basic requirement for such, an ease of supplying the would-be terrorists (especially over the border with Mexico) is already a reality. Supplies aside, the porous border also enables terrorists, the point of Janet Napolitano’s remark, to enter into the United States—thus bringing in new terrorists, some of whom would be there to impart their knowledge and experience (aside from only serving as rank and file “foot soldiers” of terror).
Apart from this, there is also the problem of this border issue not only enabling new Islamic terror networks and organizations to be built, but also bolstering the current “homegrown” terror groups. From such troubling attacks from “lone wolves,” to American-born converts, to Somali terror groups operating in Minneapolis, Islamic terror in the United States is a troubling problem. Terrorist pockets exist, but this ease of movement across the border has, logically, increased the strength of these terrorists.
The border is oft-spoken of, in regards to illegal immigration, but the security issues are not often brought up. Obviously, there are some who are aware of it—as the information had to come from somewhere (and be reported on by the media). The reasons for this lack of awareness may be speculated on greatly, but the solution to this is clear.
On the topic of solutions, there is also something to be said of the implications of not securing the border. By “implications,” though, I speak of what is much more than mere increases in terrorist activity. For the even deeper “implications,” we must keep in mind Frederic Bastiat’s “unseen.” If a major Islamist insurgency was to develop in the United States—figuratively bringing troubled Belfast and Derry to Boston and Dallas—our nation would be faced with a choice of giving up some liberties, in the name of defeating the enemy. But, as many know, once some ground is lost, there is an overwhelming chance it will never be regained. If proper measures were taken to secure the southern border this would largely contribute to averting even considering such a choice.
Christian Lopac | Wabash College | @CLopac