Napolitano: Terrorists Enter U.S. from Mexico ‘From Time to Time’

Edwin Mora | July 30, 2012 | 4:55pm EDT
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( -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress last week that terrorists intending to harm the American people enter the U.S. from Mexico “from time to time."

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At a July 25 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) asked Napolitano: “As you know, Madam Secretary, there have been anecdotal reports about material evidence of the presence of terrorists along our southern border. My question is, is there any credible evidence that these reports are accurate and that terrorists are, in fact, crossing our southern border with the intent to do harm to the American people?”

Napolitano answered: “With respect, there have been--and the Ababziar matter would be one I would refer to that's currently being adjudicated in the criminal courts--from time to time, and we are constantly working against different and evolving threats involving various terrorist groups and various ways they may seek to enter the country.”

“What I can tell you, however, is that that southern border--the U.S.-Mexico border--is heavily, heavily staffed at record amounts of manpower, materiel, infrastructure and the like, and we are constantly making sure we're doing all we can to make that border as safe as possible,” she said.

An August 2009 audit by the Government Accountability Office that focused on Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints said that in fiscal 2008 CBP reported “there were three individuals encountered by the Border Patrol at southwest border checkpoints who were identified as persons linked to terrorism.”

In April 2010, reported that FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “In Detroit, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani was indicted in the Eastern District of Michigan on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Hezbollah. … Kourani was already in custody for entering the country illegally through Mexico and was involved in fundraising activities on behalf of Hezbollah.”

Five years ago, in an August 2007 interview with the El Paso Times, then-Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell echoed what Napolitano told Congress last week about terrorist coming into the U.S. across the Mexican border.

“So, are terrorists coming across the Southwest border?” McConnell said in that interview. “Not in great numbers.”

“There are some cases?” asked the El Paso Times.

“There are some. And would they use it as a path, given it was available to them? In time they will,” said McConnell.

“If they're successful at it, then they'll probably repeat it,” asked the reporter.

“Sure,” said McConnell. “There were a significant number of Iraqis who came across last year. Smuggled across illegally.”

“Where was that?” asked the reporter.

“Across the Southwest border,” said McConnell.

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