Muslim extremists affiliated with Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, have discussed infiltrating the United States through the U.S.-Mexico border, one official told Congress Wednesday.
While not completely dismissing the possibility of such an infiltration, some intelligence officials say Mexican drug cartels might actually prevent that from happening, according to Bloomberg.
Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, told a Senate panel that conversations between Islamic State militants have been tracked on Twitter in which they discuss entering the country through Mexico.
“There have been Twitter and social-media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Taylor said in response to a question from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
Lawmakers and commentators have both raised the spectre of Muslim extremists pouring across the southern border to mount another attack similar in scope to the Sept. 11 attacks.
And many argue that the militants might team up with another threat to American security - the Mexican cartels.
Peter Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, said on Fox News recently that Islamic State militants could conspire to knock out a U.S. power grid. He pointed to the recent successful attempt of the Mexican cartel known as the Knights Templar to knock out a Mexican grid as evidence that ISIS could seek their help to do something similar on U.S. soil.
Pry argued that ISIS had plenty of cash and the cartels are notoriously willing to do anything for money.
Conservative pundit Allen West recently argued very much the same thing on his blog.
“(ISIL) has a large financing stream with assets reportedly nearly $2 billion. The narco-terrorists will provide safe passage for anyone across our porous border for a price,” West wrote.
“Narco-terrorists” is a term Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry coined to describe the cartels.
U.S. intelligence officials say that such cooperation is unlikely. The reason: It’s bad for business.
The cartels likely know that allowing safe travel through their turf for ISIS to infiltrate the U.S. and carry out a terrorist attack would draw a massive U.S. military response, the officials said.
Such a response would tighten border security and severely hamper the cartels’ narcotics smuggling operations, two intelligence officials who requested anonymity discussing intelligence assets told Bloomberg.
Furthermore, Nicholas Rasmussen, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate panel that ISIS still did not pose a significant threat to U.S., whether they were colluding with the cartels or not. Their scope does not reach far beyond Iraq and Syria, he said.
“We do not assess right now they have the capability to mount an effective large-scale attack on the United States,” Rasmussen said.