The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), in the latest edition of its propaganda magazine, indicated that it could purchase a nuclear weapon in Pakistan, take it to Nigeria, and then smuggle it into the U.S. through Mexico by using existing trafficking networks in Latin America.
In an op-ed article published in the ninth edition of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine released in late May, the jihadist group claims it could transport a nuclear device in the same way illicit drugs are smuggled into Europe through West Africa, adding that Boko Haram’s presence in Nigeria could facilitate the transaction.
The Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, pledged allegiance to ISIS in March.
In March, Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), warned that Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS could exploit the capabilities and knowledge of Latin American smuggling networks to infiltrate the U.S. through Mexico and possibly bring in weapons of mass destruction.
The general, in October 2014, acknowledged that illegal drugs from South America move “through West Africa, up the Maghreb and into Western Europe,” adding that ISIS enemy al Qaeda and its affiliates take “a lot of money to allow it to flow.”
According to the alleged author of the Dabiq op-ed article, kidnapped British photojournalist John Cantlie, ISIS could smuggle a nuke into the U.S. by using the same route and reversing the flow— moving the nuke from West Africa into South America, from where it could be transported into the United States through Mexico.
“Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table,” Cantlie wrote in the article entitled “The Perfect Storm.” “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah [province] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region.” He addded:
The weapon is then transported over land until it makes it to Libya, where the mujāhidīn [fighters] move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Columbia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible.The nuke and accompanying mujāhidīn arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States.
“From there it’s just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they’re mingling with another 12 million ‘illegal’ aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car,” he also wrote.
If not a nuke, ISIS could easily smuggle in “a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive” that is easy to manufacture, said the article.
Cantlie wrote that ISIS, which started as a movement in Iraq, has suddenly morphed into a global phenomenon that the West and the democratic world as a whole is ill-prepared to handle.
He said that Boko Haram controls most of Nigeria, home to “an exhausted and smashed national army that is now in a virtual state of collapse”.
While testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Gen. Kelly noted, “Last year, ISIS adherents posted discussions on social media calling for the infiltration of the U.S. southern border. Thankfully, we have not yet seen evidence of this occurring, but I am deeply concerned that smuggling networks are a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.”
“While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted,” he added.
The general, speaking at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. in October 2014, warned that Latin American drug cartels were working with jihadist groups in West Africa, namely Sunni group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates.
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