November 26, 2007

The Islamist Plot To Attack -- Arizona?

The Washington Times serves up a nice, juicy slab of red meat to conservatives today with an exposé of an Islamist plot to attack the US through Mexico. According to Sara Carter, Fort Huachuca had to change its security procedures after determining that radical Islamists had forges an alliance with Mexican drug cartels to attack it. The US has detained Afghans and Iraqis in Texas after detaining them in connection to the plot:

Fort Huachuca, the nation's largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the aid of Mexican drug cartels, were planning an attack on the facility.

Fort officials changed security measures after sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base, according to multiple confidential law enforcement documents obtained by The Washington Times.

"A portion of the operatives were in the United States, with the remainder not yet in the United States," according to one of the documents, 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."

Sixty foreign fighters wanted to attack Fort Huachuca? It would make a tempting target for both drug cartels and Islamist radicals to be sure. It houses the US Army Intelligence Center and provides training for military intelligence units. The NCOA also trains the backbone of the Army -- its non-commissioned officers. An attack on this base would make headlines around the world.

The gist of the headlines would talk of a lunatic attack on a well-defended military installation, however. A force of sixty lightly-armed men would have no chance of even taking out an equal number of people inside the base, let alone having any effect on the operations within. The 54th Massachusetts had a better chance of taking Fort Wagner in the Civil War. That wouldn't have been the point of this attack, of course. It would have been intended to take the war once again to the American homeland. The Islamists would have used it as a propaganda victory, showing that the Americans could not keep themselves safe, let alone beat them abroad.

It worked out a little differently. The US learned of the plot and apparently took steps to detain some of its members. This action shows that the US actually does a pretty good job of protecting the homeland, and can act against plots quickly when necessary.

In fact, the story should result in considerable head-scratching over the motives of the drug cartels. Had the plot succeeded, the US would have reacted swiftly and harshly to close down the southern border; its vulnerability has already created a major political firestorm. That would have destroyed the markets for these cartels. Could it be that the cartels played both sides of this plot in order to keep its access to American markets unfettered?

UPDATE: As I mentioned on today's show, I could have written this a little more artfully. No doubt 60 determined and well-armed terrorists could wreak havoc for a short period of time on an American military base. However, they could wreak a lot more havoc for a lot longer in a place like Tucson or Phoenix. Not only would the death tolls skyrocket, the attack would get a lot more coverage. As poorly prepared as some commenters assume Fort Huachuca to be for this attack, cities and towns represent much softer targets, as SwabJockey points out.

Color me skeptical about the target, at least.

UPDATE II: The Washington Times should try doing a little better at vetting these stories:

A plot by dozens of foreign terrorists who purportedly planned to attack Fort Huachuca with rocket propelled grenades and mines has proved unfounded, an FBI spokesman said Monday.

The threat, detailed by a local television station and The Washington Times after information was recently leaked to them, involved Iraqi and Afghan terrorists working with a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle themselves and weapons across the U.S. border. ...

The attack never occurred and was the result of bad information, said Manuel Johnson, an FBI spokesman based in Phoenix.

“A thorough investigation was conducted and there is no evidence showing that the threat was credible,” he said.

Skepticism confirmed. (via Poliblogger)


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» Jihadists Working With Mexican Cartels to Infiltrate the Border! (Or, Not) from PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts
The Washington Times has all of the gory details: Terrorists target Army base — in Arizona Fort Huachuca, the nation’s largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the... [Read More]

» Monday links from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
Too much to do to provide a full post today, but I wanted to link to some stories of interest, leading off with the (nonexistent) plot to attack Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The Washington Times first broke the story: Fort Huachuca, [Read More]