An illegal immigration link to identity theft

An illegal immigration link to identity theft

By Faye Bowers, Correspondent of The Christian Science MonitorThu Dec 14, 4:00 AM ET

The latest roundup of illegal immigrants caught working in the US with fraudulent identifications – the largest single such work-site action ever – raises new questions about a link between illegal immigration and the growing problem of identity theft.

Federal raids Tuesday at six meat-processing plants owned by Swift & Co. in six states resulted in the arrests of 1,282 people for immigration violation – with 65 also charged with identify theft or other criminal charges.

The investigation is continuing, say officials with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with the hope that some of the newly arrested workers will lead law officers to “document rings” that provided the stolen identities. The 10-month operation began in February, when ICE learned that “large numbers” of undocumented immigrants might be using Social Security numbers assigned to US citizens.

“We believe that the genuine identities of possibly hundreds of US citizens are being stolen or hijacked by criminal organizations and sold to illegal aliens in order to gain unlawful employment in this country,” said Julie Myers, ICE assistant secretary. She called it “a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration.”

The fraudulent document business has long been a thorn in the side of immigration officials, making it hard for them to crack down on companies for knowingly hiring illegal workers. Indeed, even as ICE agents conducted Tuesday’s raids at the Swift plants, a joint task force in Arizona – made up of state, federal, and local law- enforcement officials – was arresting 12 suspects and seized numerous fake drivers’ licenses, resident alien cards, Social Security cards, and vehicle titles.

Metropolitan Phoenix, a major immigrant-smuggling hub, has become a place where the false ID business is thriving, law-enforcement officers say. They estimate that 1,000 to 1,500 “coyotes,” or smugglers, stash thousands of undocumented immigrants in drop houses throughout the valley, where they wait until false identification and transportation can be arranged to places as far away as Seattle and Miami.

“I would say that 90 percent of the transactions dealing with the sale of human cargo, those smuggled across the [Arizona] border, occur right here,” Angel Rascon-Rubio, an ICE special agent, testified at a federal court hearing last year.

The Phoenix area is ideal for smugglers, officials say, because it is fairly easy to reach from Mexico but far enough from the border to avoid border patrol enforcement. It has broad access to the rest of the country via air and car. Moreover, the large Hispanic neighborhoods provide cover for drop houses and new immigrants.

On one of Phoenix’s quiet residential streets lined with stucco tract homes live two men who came to the US illegally but gained legal status – along with some 3 million others – under the federal 1986 amnesty program. David and Raul, who will give only first names, are in the business of helping newly arrived illegal immigrants acquire fake documents.

They are not part of an organized crime family, they say – just part of a network of established immigrants who help others attain what they’ve achieved. They are, in effect, the go-betweens from those who bring the immigrants and those who make the fake ID papers – a service they say they provide for free.

“A coyote will call and say, ‘Does your boss need more workers?’ or ‘Can you help get this person some papers?’ ” says David, whose main job is as a landscaper. “It’s easy. I’ll have a number for a [document] guy and call him. We’ll meet at the major intersection out here, say, in half an hour. I give him $50 or $100, whatever he’s asking, a photo of the person, and a name,” he adds. “About 45 minutes later, he’ll call me to come meet him on the same corner with the papers – a Social Security card and a green card.”

If that won’t work, David adds, he drives to the nearest Food City, a chain that specializes in Hispanic goods. There, he says, he just asks around. “There are even guys there who’ll hand you business cards – they’re in the business of providing fake documents.”

Raul, who works in construction, says it’s not uncommon to get a call from a coyote in the morning and, by afternoon, have jobs and fake documents for the newly arrived illegals. The two won’t tell how many illegal immigrants they help, but say they get called at least weekly.

All of the arrests at the Swift plants Tuesday targeted illegal immigrants who held actual – not fake – Social Security numbers. Many businesses that make use of immigrant labor participate in a national test program for employers called Basic Pilot, an online system to verify employees’ Social Security numbers.

But the fake-documents manufacturers are wise to this, say David and Raul. In Arizona, they assign Social Security numbers that begin with 601 – numbers the government apparently assigns people from Arizona. Employers then don’t readily recognize a fake document, and, the men say, it takes at least a year for the government to recognize a duplicate number. That means the illegal immigrant can work in the US for up to a year before being sent home.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano set up an Arizona Fraudulent Identification Task Force in July 2005 as part of a crackdown on crime related to illegal immigration. Since then, the task force has focused in part on fraudulent documents. In doing so, it has issued more than 100 search warrants resulting in 178 defendants charged with 1,400 crimes, says Leesa Morrison, director of the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.

“Most astounding,” adds Ms. Morrison, “is that in this short period our undercover agents have purchased over 1,000 fraudulent immigration documents. What’s frightening is that [they] are able to purchase a three-pack – a driver’s license, a Social Security card, and a permanent-resident card – for about $160 on the street.”

previous bustsApril 2005: In Florida, immigration agents arrested 52, including several state Department of Motor Vehicles officials, alleged to be part of a scheme to make and sell fake driver’s licenses and hazmat licenses to more than 2,000 illegal immigrants. The same month, other sweeps revealed fraudulent license schemes in Michigan and Maryland.

May 2005: In Mississippi, Cedric Carpenter and Lamont Ranson pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell fake documents to members of Abu Sayyaf, a Philippines-based Islamist terrorist group.

February 2006: A lieutenant in the Mexican-based Castorena family organization, a fraudulent document outfit that controls cells in 33 states, was sentenced in Denver to 11 years in prison. More than 50 members of this international counterfeit operation have been prosecuted in Denver alone. Its leader, Pedro Castorena-Ibarra, was arrested in June by Mexican officers and is awaiting extradition to the US.

March 2006: Agents busted seven counterfeit-document labs in Los Angeles and charged 11 people with supplying fraudulent immigration and identity documents.

June 2006: In Boston, immigration agents arrested nine people accused of running a phony document ring. They seized document-forging tools and six computers at five homes. The sweeps led to the arrests of 13 undocumented Brazilian and Guatemalan nationals.

Anxiety On Costs Of Illegal Residents

Anxiety On Costs Of Illegal Residents
Pr. William Board Wants Impact On County Studied
By Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 18, 2006; B01

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors, alarmed at the financial impact of illegal immigration, has called for a wide-ranging study to determine how much money the problem is costing the county government.

The board’s request for a staff study is unusual. Neither the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments nor the National Council of La Raza, a leading national Hispanic civil rights group, said they could recall any recent studies by local governments attempting to assess the cost of illegal immigration.

The supervisors’ demand for the study signals that illegal immigration will be an urgent topic for board members heading into 2007, when they are up for reelection. Supervisors say a wave of immigrants is driving up costs for schools, social services, health care and law enforcement.

As a sign of the board’s frustration over illegal immigration, one supervisor wants to go so far as to demand that the federal government reimburse the county for the additional costs.

“By putting a number on the cost, this gives us an opportunity to push back on the federal government and say, ‘Look what you are doing to us on the local government level,’ ” said Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville), who proposed the study. “I mean, it is the federal government’s responsibility to regulate commerce. They are the ones who are supposed to secure the borders.”

County Executive Craig S. Gerhart is supposed to complete the report by Jan. 16. Covington said he will then propose sending a bill to the federal government for the full amount.

Prince William, where about 20 percent of residents are foreign-born, joins a number of local governments grappling with a wave of new residents, many of them illegal immigrants. The nearby city of Manassas has been trying to prevent illegal immigrants from clustering in single-family homes. Herndon also has approved measures aimed at deterring illegal immigrants from living or working there.

In Prince William, the development boom has attracted undocumented workers looking for jobs. Those workers’ children have enrolled in county schools, and the families have used county social services and health-care facilities.

“I can tell you that my constituents are very angry about this issue,” said Covington, who also recently pushed through a one-year freeze on new-home construction. “I think they are going to be demanding more and more as time goes on that the appropriate measures are being taken.”

At the urging of Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr. (R-Gainesville), the study will include the impact on the police department and jail and court system. Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) requested that the county’s hospitals and health clinics also be reviewed.

“Illegal immigration is a big problem in Prince William County,” Caddigan said. “We want to have a solution to it and do whatever it takes to solve it. Nobody is moving on it. The federal government is not doing anything to work on illegal immigration. It is only getting worse.”

County staff members have told the supervisors that it could be difficult to meet the Jan. 16 deadline because of the holidays and because they are immersed in preparing the next budget.

“This is a very complex request covering several agencies,” said county spokeswoman Liz Bahrns, adding that agencies have been given two weeks to respond. “Given the scope of this task, we would expect it to take every bit of the two weeks to pull the figures together . . . or perhaps longer. We will, however, have a response . . . by Jan. 16.”

Covington, who does not have an estimate for what he thinks illegal immigration is costing the county, said he is serious about asking the federal government to reimburse the county. But he said he is realistic enough to know that the county will probably never get a penny.

“I really think they should pay, but it is more symbolic,” he said.

He said his constituents are angry because they are worried about possible cuts in county services or tax increases, based on falling revenue from the slower housing market. Residents have told Covington they are concerned that their taxes are paying for the education and health care of illegal workers who pay no taxes.

“You know, as far as educating the children of illegal immigrants, they are paying the full burden of that,” Covington said. “It really boils down to an accountability issue. I don’t think people inherently want to hurt other people. They don’t mind helping other people, but they want to know what the cost is and want to know that a set of rules apply to everyone and not just some people.”

Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy research for the National Council of La Raza, the country’s oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization, said she welcomed the attempt by Prince William to study the issue — “assuming that it is based on sound methodology and it is unbiased.”

Waslin cited a study released by the comptroller of Texas this month that reported that illegal immigrants had a positive financial impact on the state treasury but that they were costing counties hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

“The study showed that the tax money was going to the state and the counties were not getting any of those tax revenues,” she said. “So the counties end up footing the cost.”

The Mark of Cain

The Mark of Cain
By Salim Mansur
Western Standard | December 18, 2006

In October, the British medical journal The Lancet published a study by researchers from the Johns Hop-kins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Baghdad’s Al Mustansiriya University, alleging that “654,965 more Iraqis may have died since hostilities began in Iraq in March 2003,” than would have died had Saddam Hussein remained in power. That research was quickly subjected to expert scrutiny, and questions about its methodology cast doubt on its findings. The publication’s timing was perhaps no coincidence, as it came before the November 2006
U.S. congressional elections. The study supposed that, on average, “a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms” – in the critical words of the independent Iraqi Body Count. The IBC stands by its daily reporting of Iraqi casualties, which of late, as the American mid-term elections approached, peaked at about a hundred fatalities daily.
 Yet too many Iraqis are dead, wounded and marked by torture, not from the U.S. war for regime change, but going back to 1968, when Saddam Hussein seized power in Baghdad. By inflating Iraqi deaths since March 2003, The Lancet article trivializes Iraqi suffering under his rule. Further, it is churlish to politicize the casualties from wars to end tyranny and free a people traumatized by brutal regimes. The liberation of Iraq caused unavoidable deaths, as did the liberation of Europe and
Japan in World War Two. Any effort to end genocide in Darfur will cause Sudanese casualties, as did Vietnam’s 1979 intervention to stop Pol Pot’s slaughter of Cambodians, or the Tanzanian army’s liberation of
Uganda from murderous Idi Amin.
                                    This October, IBC estimated the maximum number of Iraqi dead following Saddam’s overthrow at more than 49,000, including the casualties of operations by the U.S.-led coalition and those killed by both Iraqi criminals and foreign jihadists. And this figure comes with the usual caveats of reporting from multiple sources in a fluid insurgency. Apart from the discrepancy between the IBC and Lancet counts, what is seen most clearly here is the reluctance of western sources to report the terrible reality of Muslim on Muslim violence throughout the Arab-Muslim world.  

Iraqi casualties from the radical Islamist insurgency and sectarian Sunni-Shia violence exceed those from American-led military operations. The Bush administration may perhaps be faulted for not anticipating that level of violence and civilian casualties – but only in hindsight. No one in Washington or
London could have imagined the ferocity of the militants who punish the Iraqis who opt for freedom. To anticipate such Muslim on Muslim violence would have required an admission of that tendency within Muslim history. No regional expert in the White House, nor even the astute historian of the region Bernard Lewis, warned ahead of
Iraq’s liberation that Islamist insurgency might seek to drown Iraqi freedom in blood and tears.
 Muslim on Muslim violence is intrinsic to Arab-Muslim history. The tribal lust for power and cruelty in warfare are not unique to
Middle East culture. But such tribalism warped Islam as a faith tradition in the early seventh century, right at the outset of the post-prophetic years. Among its first victims were Prophet Mohammed’s family members: his cousin and son-in-law Ali, and his grandsons Hasan and Husayn.

Al Qaeda chief in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed this June, had come there from
Jordan to precipitate a naked Sunni-Shia sectarian war. He had a large following in Jordan, and his mayhem in
Iraq was not widely condemned by Arab leaders. His political violence was not an anomaly to his culture. Neither is Osama bin Laden’s ideology alien to
Saudi Arabia’s sort of Islam, exported throughout the Sunni Muslim world. We have witnessed uninhibited Muslim on Muslim violence in Taliban Afghanistan, Darfur’s rolling genocide, the decade-long siege of Algeria, Saddam’s massacre of Iraqi Kurds, the bloodletting among Palestinians, and the clan warfare in
 Muslim on Muslim violence, crippling the Arab-Muslim world, is documented in R.J. Rummel’s Statistics of Democide. He provides the grisly example of Pakistan’s 1971 genocide in East Pakistan, which “succeeded in killing perhaps 1,500,000 people, created 10,000,000 refugees who had fled to India, provoked a war with
India, [and] incited a countergenocide of 150,000 non-Bengalis.” As a young adult, I saw firsthand what Rummel describes.

The Lancet article’s flaw was worse than just questionable methodology. It shifted the Arab-Muslim culpability in
Iraq’s bloodletting to the American-led coalition. It made room for Arabs and Muslims to deny their responsibility in making their own grim history.

Iranian students hide in fear for lives

Iranian students hide in fear for lives

Remember those Iranian students who dared protest against the Thug-In-Chief in front of Ahmadinejad himself? Well, so does Ahmadinejad. What was that again about it being “possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice,” Mahmoud?

From the Mail & Guardian, with thanks to DFS:

Iranian student activists who staged an angry protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week have gone into hiding in fear for their lives after his supporters threatened them with revenge.One student fled after being photographed holding a banner reading, “Fascist president, the polytechnic is not for you”, during Ahmadinejad’s visit to Tehran’s Amir Kabir university. At least three others have gone underground after being seen burning his picture. Vigilantes from the militant Ansar-e Hezbollah group have been searching for them.

In a startling contrast to the acclaim Ahmadinejad has received in numerous recent appearances around Iran, he faced chants of “Death to the dictator” as he addressed a gathering in the university’s sports hall last week. Several hundred students forced their way in to voice anger over a clampdown on universities since he became president last year….

Last Monday’s university demonstration triggered violent clashes between student activists and crowds of Basij militia, who were there to support the president. A shoe was thrown at Ahmadinejad while a student had his nose broken by an aide to a Cabinet minister.

Protesters later surrounded the president’s car, prompting a security guard to fire a stun grenade to warn them off. Four cars in the presidential convoy collided in their haste to leave. Ahmadinejad’s staff later insisted he had remained calm and ordered that the students should go unpunished. But some of those present say he accused them of being paid United States agents who would be confronted.

“He threatened us directly, saying that what we were doing was against the wishes of the nation,” said Babak Zamanian, a spokesperson for Amir Kabir university’s Islamic students’ committee. “After that, the students protested even more sharply, calling him a lying religious dictator and shouting, ‘Forget America and start thinking about us!’

“We were chanting, ‘Get lost Ahmadinejad!’ and ‘Ahmadinejad — element of discrimination and corruption.’ You could see from his face that he was really shocked. He wasn’t flashing his usual smile, and at one stage I thought he was going to cry. He told his supporters to respond with a religious chant hailing Ahmadinejad, but he was so shaken he was actually chanting it himself.”

Another student said: “He was trying to keep control of himself, but you could see he was angry and upset.”

Witnesses say Ahmadinejad also tried to ridicule the students by referring to the university disciplinary code, under which those with three penalty points are suspended from studies. “He joked that he was going to issue a presidential order for those with three stars to be enlisted as sergeants in the army. That made the students really angry,” said Zamanian.

The university authorities’ contentious use of the disciplinary code was said to be a trigger for last week’s protest. About 70 students have been suspended and threatened with expulsion for various political activities, including writing articles critical of the government.

Last month, the authorities demolished two building belonging to the Islamic students’ committee — a moderate grouping representing diverse opinions. An elected student body was also disbanded. Women students have been told to wear conservative dress and remove any makeup.

In this atmosphere, activists at Amir Kabir university — a traditional hotbed of political activism — regarded Ahmadinejad’s visit as a deliberate provocation and decided to protest. While many chanted, a hard core waved banners and burned his portrait, some ignoring instructions to cover their faces.

The 21-year-old student holding the “fascist president” banner was among those threatened with expulsion. He is said to be in grave danger after foreign news outlets, including the Guardian, published a picture of his gesture. Friends say he went into hiding after being confronted by two vigilantes.

“They said they would pull his father out of the grave [an ancient Persian threat],” said one student. “He is in real danger. Vigilantes have been standing at the dormitory doors asking for him.”

Students now fear an even fiercer crackdown. “We believe [the authorities] will react much worse than before,” said Armin Salmasi (26) a leading activist. “We are already under constant surveillance. The student movement in Iran is going to be driven underground — just like it was before the revolution.”

Newsweek: 12-man team of Westerners being trained by al Qaeda in Pakistan

Newsweek: 12-man team of Westerners being trained by al Qaeda in Pakistan

Just a Tiny Minority of Extremists traversing what has become known as the “Al Qaeda Pipeline” between Pakistan and Britain. “The Regathering Storm,” by Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau And Mark Hosenball for Newsweek:

Dec. 25, 2006 – Jan. 1, 2007 issue – For the past year, a secret has been slowly spreading among Taliban commanders in Afghanistan: a 12-man team of Westerners was being trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan for a special mission. Most of the Afghan fighters could rely only on hearsay, but some told of seeing the “English brothers” (as the foreign recruits were nicknamed for their shared language) in person. One eyewitness, a former Guantánamo detainee with close Taliban and Qaeda ties, spoke to NEWSWEEK recently in southern Afghanistan, demanding anonymity because he doesn’t want the Americans looking for him. He says he met the 12 recruits in November 2005, at a mud-brick compound near the North Waziristan town of Mir Ali. That was as much as the tight-lipped former detainee would divulge, except to mention that Adam Yahiye Gadahn, the notorious fugitive “American Al Qaeda,” was with the brothers, presumably as an interpreter.

Another Afghan had more to say on the subject. Omar Farooqi is the nom de guerre of a former provincial intelligence chief for the Taliban; he now serves as the Taliban’s chief Qaeda liaison for Ghazni province, in eastern Afghanistan. He says he spent roughly five weeks this past year helping to indoctrinate and train a class of foreign recruits near the Afghan border in tribal Waziristan, and among his students were the English brothers. The 12 included two Norwegian Muslims and an Australian, along with nine British subjects, says Farooqi. Their mission, Farooqi told NEWSWEEK, will be to act as underground organizers and operatives for Al Qaeda in their home countries—and their yearlong training course is just about finished.

U.S. and British security agencies have known this threat would come sooner or later. While saying he could not confirm the English brothers’ case specifically, a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office (unnamed as a matter of standard policy) calls it “common knowledge” that jihadist recruits have been traveling from Britain to Pakistan for indoctrination and training. The existence of a Qaeda pipeline between those two countries has grown harder to deny with every new terrorism story that has broken since the suicide bombings in London that killed 52 subway and bus passengers on July 7, 2005. Each new case that emerges features at least one or two suspects with ties to Pakistan—such as an alleged plot that began before 9/11 to bomb financial buildings in New York, Newark, N.J., and Washington, and this past summer’s alleged plot to blow up airline flights from Britain to the United States.


American intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that their people are definitely concerned about terror suspects and operatives shuttling back and forth between Britain and Pakistan. One particular worry is that under current practice, British visitors to the States are not required to apply in advance for temporary visas, which are routinely granted to any British passport holder who is not on a watch list. In other words, the door is wide open for Britain’s growing ranks of young jihadists, even those who have attended Qaeda training camps, if they are unknown to intelligence agencies. U.S. officials are discussing how the visa system could be tightened. “For the most effective background checks on passengers, the United States needs information and assistance from the country where the traveler resides,” says Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke, adding that such help should be “routine.”

While the Americans talk, Al Qaeda is pressing on with its training plans, Farooqi says. He confidently described those plans to a NEWSWEEK correspondent at a mud-brick house in Paktia province, not far from the Pakistan border, mentioning the English brothers almost in passing as an example of the jihad’s recent successes. The specifics of his story could not be independently corroborated. But one gunman among the dozen or so guarding the house, with most of his face hidden by a black-and-white kaffiyeh, appeared to be a European with light -colored eyes; Farooqi later confirmed that the guard was one of the brothers. An open notebook lay on the carpet where Farooqi sat, and the NEWSWEEK correspondent caught a fleeting glimpse of scrawled names and phone numbers, including several that were preceded by the United Kingdom’s country code: 44.

Farooqi says he first met the brothers, all of them in their 20s, soon after they reached Waziristan in October 2005. He recalls one of them, known as Musa, telling him that the 7/7 bombings in London “were just a rehearsal of bigger acts to come.” A few, he couldn’t say how many, had arrived in Pakistan by air, but most had taken a clandestine overland route across Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, escorted by a network of professional smugglers. As NEWSWEEK has reported previously, Al Qaeda uses the same underground railroad to transport Iraqi bombmakers and insurgent trainers to share their skills with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to Farooqi, the brothers’ travel arrangements were made by Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, one of Al Qaeda’s top operations men and a liaison with insurgents in Iraq. (His name has also cropped up in an ongoing British criminal trial in which seven London-area defendants of Pakistani descent are accused of conspiring to bomb British targets with homemade explosives. Prosecutors have alleged that Abdul Hadi’s deputy even visited Britain and prayed at a mosque near London with one of the suspects.) The transcontinental journey took a month to complete, but Farooqi claims the brothers left no official traces of their passage, slipping past every border-control post without showing any travel documents. Once they get home, there may be no record that they ever visited Pakistan.


Farooqi says the recruits were taught a wide variety of subjects, from religious and ideological doctrine to the art of molding, assembling and detonating state-of-the-art Iraqi-style shaped-charge IEDs. They learned how to make and use suicide-bomb vests, how to rig car bombs, how to motivate other men to sacrifice their lives for the jihad and how to maintain communications with Al Qaeda on the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. They’re not meant to be suicide bombers themselves, Farooqi says; they are far too valuable to waste. The recruits that M.I.5 was tracking also seemed bound for bigger things than cannon fodder.

The English brothers completed their Waziristan stay in October, Farooqi says, but before going home, they had one final assignment. Their Arab handlers separated them into several smaller groups and sent them into Afghanistan to see the jihad firsthand, embedded with Taliban units in Khowst and Paktia provinces. The unit commanders were warned to avoid putting them in any danger. After that, the brothers were supposed to return to Britain the same way they got to Pakistan. That means most of them could be getting home any day now—if they aren’t there already.

Jihadists returning to Spain from Iraq

Jihadists returning to Spain from Iraq

“Mujahedin fighters return to Spain from Iraq: report,” from AFP:

MADRID – Mujahedin fighters have returned to bases in Spain after gaining combat experience in Iraq and are now a potential threat to European security, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Sunday.

Potential? Nah, they must be back to reconstitute La Convivencia.

According to El Pais the fighters worked alongside cells controlled by late Al Qaeda senior leader and Jordanian extremist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, killed in June.

‘They are the new Trojan horse of Al Qaeda and its satellites on our territory and they are already preparing themselves,’ deputy director of the European police network Europol, Mariano Simancas, told El Pais.

‘They represent a serious threat for the countries of the European Union,’ Simancas added.

El Pais quoted anti-terrorist sources as saying that an unspecified number of formerly Spanish-based Algerians and Moroccans who had gained experience in handling arms and explosives in Iraq had now returned.

‘But they are doing nothing for the moment. They are biding their time, which complicates things when it comes to making arrests,’ one unnamed expert told El Pais.

Two years ago, Simancas told a parliamentary investigation into the March 11, 2004 Madrid bombings that Islamic terrorism was an ongoing major security threat and that it was not possible to know ‘100 percent’ where radical groups might strike.

In midweek Spain arrested 11 suspected Islamist militants in Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta on suspicion they were planning attacks ‘of a terrorist nature.’

Senators for Terror

Senators for Terror
By Joe Kaufman | December 18, 2006

When the Democratic Party overtook the House and the Senate this past November, it signified that Americans wanted change.  What the country didn’t have in mind, though, was for that change to be an embrace of terrorism.  From looking at the recent actions of two prominent Democratic Senators, that is exactly what we have gotten. Senator Bill Nelson and Syrian President Bashar Assad 

Syria’s role in
Iraq has been apparent – to look the other way, whilst terrorists (a.k.a. insurgents) pass over the border. 
Syria’s role in
Lebanon has been apparent – to take part in assassinations of heads of state and to prop up Hezbollah, both politically and militarily. 
Syria’s role in
Iran is apparent – to form a partnership with a nuclear, genocidal fanatic.  And
Syria’s role in
Gaza has been apparent – to harbor the leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, so that they can conduct activities from afar without fear of reprisal from
Syria is, by our nation’s standards, a terror sponsoring entity.


That is reality.


Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), on Wednesday, December 13, 2006, chose to ignore this reality – and the advice of the White House and the State Department – by meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.  The mission, which was said to be one of “diplomacy,” was to ask for Assad’s help in Iraq – essentially to ask a man partly responsible for what has happened in
Iraq for help in


The end result is that we have sent a message to our enemies that terrorism indeed pays, even when it is aimed at arguably what is the most powerful nation in the world.  And we the
United States, through our representation by Senator Nelson, have been reduced to playing the part of beggar, while waving a white flag.


Before saying that the Senator is alone in his thinking, we must understand that there are others who support such an endeavor as Senator Nelson has carried out.  One group in particular is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that has numerous ties to Islamic extremism – as well, a group whose founder of its parent organization, Mousa Abu Marzook, resides in
Damascus as the second in command of Hamas.  Of Nelson’s trip, the Communications Director for CAIR-Florida Ahmed Bedier stated, “He should be commended for reaching out and trying for dialogue.

Jimmy Carter and the Arab Lobby

Jimmy Carter and the Arab Lobby
By Jacob Laksin | December 18, 2006

Nothing demonstrates more clearly the defects of Jimmy Carter’s latest brief against Israel, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, than the ex-president’s reluctance to defend the book on its merits. Rather than take up that unenviable task, Carter has sought to shift the focus away from the criticism — especially as it concerns the book’s serial distortions and outright falsehoods — and onto the critics. In particular, Carter claims that critics are compromised by their support for Israel, their ties to pro-Israel lobbying organizations, and — a more pernicious charge — their Jewish background. In interviews about his book, Carter has seldom missed an opportunity to invoke what he calls the “powerful influence of AIPAC,” with the subtext that it is the lobbying group, and not his slanderous charges about Israel, that is mainly responsible for mobilizing popular outrage over Palestine. In a related line of defense, Carter has singled out “representatives of Jewish organizations” in the media as the prime culprits behind his poor reviews and “university campuses with high Jewish enrollment” as the main obstacle to forthright debate about his book on American universities. (Ironically, when challenged last week by Alan Dershowitz to a debate about his book at Brandeis University, which has a large Jewish student body, Carter rejected the invitation.)  

Bluster aside, Carter’s chief complaint seems to be that anyone who identifies with Israel, whether in the form of individual support or in a more organized capacity, is incapable of grappling honestly with the issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But Carter is poorly placed to make this claim. If such connections alone are sufficient to discredit his critics, then by his own logic Carter is undeserving of a hearing. After all, the Carter Center, the combination research and activist project he founded at Emory University in 1982, has for years prospered from the largesse of assorted Arab financiers.  

Especially lucrative have been Carter’s ties to Saudi Arabia. Before his death in 2005, King Fahd was a longtime contributor to the Carter Center and on more than one occasion contributed million-dollar donations. In 1993 alone, the king presented Carter with a gift of $7.6 million. And the king was not the only Saudi royal to commit funds to Carter’s cause. As of 2005, the king’s high-living nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, has donated at least $5 million to the Carter Center.  

Meanwhile the Saudi Fund for Development, the kingdom’s leading loan organization, turns up repeatedly on the center’s list of supporters. Carter has also found moneyed allies in the Bin Laden family, and in 2000 he secured a promise from ten of Osama bin Laden’s brothers for a $1 million contribution to his center. To be sure, there is no evidence that the Bin Ladens maintain any contact with their terrorist relation. But applying Carter’s own standard, his extensive contacts with the Saudi elite must make his views on the Middle East suspect.  

High praise for Carter’s work — and not inconsiderable financial support — also comes from the United Arab Emirates. In 2001, Carter even traveled to the country to accept the Zayed International Prize for the Environment, named for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the late UAE potentate and former president-for-life. Having claimed his $500,000 purse, Carter enthused that the “award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan.” Carter also hailed the UAE as an “almost completely open and free society” — a surreal depiction of a rigidly authoritarian country where the government handpicks a select group of citizens to vote and strictly controls the editorial content of the newspapers and where Islamic Shari’a courts judge “sodomy” punishable by death. (To appreciate the depth of Carter’s cynicism, one need only compare his gushing encomia to the emirates with his likening of Israel, the most modern and democratic country in the entire Middle East, with the racist “apartheid” of South Africa.)  

On top of these official honors, Carter was offered a forum at the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow Up, the country’s official “think-tank.” For his part, Carter declared his intention to forge a “partnership” with the center; in a 2002 letter, Carter praised its efforts to “promote peace, health, and human rights around the world.” Inconveniently for Carter, the center has since become famous for a different reason: It has repeatedly played host to anti-Semitic speakers who have denied the Holocaust, supported terrorism, and alleged an international conspiracy of Jews and Zionists to dominate the world. (Harvard University, in contrast to Carter’s enthusiasm for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, rejected a $2.5 million from the ruler in 2004 due to his ties to the Zayed Center.) 

Nor does this exhaust the list of Carter’s backers in the Arab world. Still other supporters include Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who sits atop Oman’s absolute monarchy. An occasional host to Carter, the sultan has also made generous contributions to his center. Prior to inviting Carter for a “personal visit” in 1998, the sultan pledged $1 million to the Carter Center, promising additional support in the future. Similarly, Morocco’s Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah, the second in line to the kingdom’s throne, has in the past partnered with Carter on the center’s initiatives. 

On its face, there is nothing objectionable about these contacts. What has raised critics’ eyebrows is Carter’s immense chutzpah: In securing the financial support of assorted Arab leaders, Carter has gradually come to parrot their anti-Israel political agenda — even as he styles himself as a dispassionate mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

This was nowhere more evident than in Carter’s credulous support for the late Yasir Arafat. Although Carter had championed Araft as a committed peacemaker since his presidency, in the face of ample evidence to the contrary, his apologies for the terrorist chieftain became particularly shameless in the 1990s. When Arafat and his PLO backed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, thereby loosing the support and — more important for the corrupt Arafat — the funding of neighboring Sunni Arab powers, Carter embarked on a Middle East publicity tour to revive Arafat’s diminishing fortunes. As recorded by Carter biographer Douglas Brinkley, “together [Carter and Arafat] strategized on how to recover the PLO’s standing in the United States.” In desperation, Carter turned up in Saudi Arabia on what Brinkley called “essentially a fund-raising mission for the PLO,” pleading with King Fahd to restore Arafat to the Saudi dole. 

Now that Arafat’s Fatah has been replaced with Hamas, Carter has again proven himself a reliable ally of Palestinian extremism. Scarcely had the terrorist group ascended to power last January than Carter launched a media blitz urging the United States to circumvent its own laws against financing terrorism in order to fund Hamas. As the New York Times put with exquisite finesse, Carter called on Western nations to “redirect their relief aid to United Nations organizations and nongovernmental organizations to skirt legal restrictions” — that is, to launder money to a terrorist group. When American policymakers declined to heed his advice, and Israel proved unwilling to bankroll the enemy seeking its destruction, Carter promptly denounced the both countries for their “common commitment to eviscerate the government of elected Hamas.”  

With its relentless disparagement of Israel and its reckless abuse of the historical record, Carter’s latest book may fairly be seen as the logical culmination of his many years of anti-Israel incitement. There was of course no shortage of clues about Carter’s sympathies in his earlier books. In his 2004 memoir Sharing Good Times, for instance, Carter recalled the trips he has taken over the years to Arab dictatorships in Syria and Saudi Arabia and noted with evident satisfaction that he was “always greeted with smiles and friendship.”  

Readers may be forgiven for finding nothing shocking in this admission. Carter may still harbor illusions of grandeur, seeing himself as an instrument of peace in the Middle East. But an altogether different element explains his enduring popularity in Arab capitals: Not for all the millions they have sunk into the Carter Center over the years could Arab elites have hoped to purchase such a prominent and willing propaganda tool.