WASHINGTON – Islamic terrorists with the assistance of Mexican drug cartels might have been planning an attack on the U.S. Army base Fort Huachuca in Arizona, forcing the nation's largest intelligence training center to change security measures back in May.
Scroll down for the reaction from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes
The Washington Times reported on Monday that as many as 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists would attempt to enter the United States via underground tunnels that have sprouted underneath the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years under funding by drug- and human-smuggling operations. The terrorists were said to be planning to use high-powered weapons to mount their attack.
"A portion of the operatives were in the United States, with the remainder not yet in the United States," according to a confidential document cited by The Times, an FBI advisory that was distributed to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, Customs and Border Protection and the Justice Department, among several other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. "The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners."
The following is the reaction to the story from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes:
The Washington Times and FOX News reported yesterday about a six-month old alleged terrorist threat to Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The stories claimed that the threat would come from 60 terrorists smuggled across the Mexican border through underground tunnels.
I have looked into this threat report and been assured by the FBI and the United States Army that it is not a credible threat.
According to the FBI, the threat was based on a single Intelligence Information Report in May 2007, one of several thousand such reports issued by the FBI in fiscal year 2007. The information was derived from a single DEA source, who obtained it from another individual of "dubious credibility," according to the FBI.
These individual reports provide analysts with raw intelligence and are not significantly vetted to ensure their accuracy. The Intelligence Community has informed me that the source of this information "is not being given any significant credence within the FBI."
Having worked on border security issues for my entire career, I know that individuals will often fabricate information to the FBI or DEA in order to settle scores with other drug gangs or rivals. The job of the intelligence professional is to separate fact from fiction. In this case, it appears to be fiction.
I have also been assured that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army have taken all prudent measures to ensure that security is tight at our military bases near the Southwestern border, including Fort Huachuca. After the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11, it should surprise nobody that terrorists may see U.S. military installations as a potential target.
I find it troublesome, however, that some news organizations might give credibility to this single threat report, simply because it involves the Southwestern border and the potential involvement of Mexican smugglers.
Protecting our country requires strong intelligence, enhanced security at all of our borders and ports, and a broad strategy to combat Islamic extremism around the world. Over-hyped news stories about illegal immigration neither makes us safer nor contributes constructively to the serious debate that must take place on immigration issues.
We’ve learned the hard way what happens when intelligence reporting is manipulated for political reasons. The hyping of a dated report of no credibility to use as a political prop in the immigration debate runs the risk of falling into the same trap all over again.