WASHINGTON, DC — The Sheriff of an Arizona county that shares a border with Mexico warned that terrorists could use “VIP” tunnels along the southwest border to enter the United States.
Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County, Arizona testified today before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
“We just discovered two weeks ago a tunnel in our county. This was a tunnel about two years old that I hate to use the word, but a ‘VIP’ tunnel, which means human smuggling is not coming through that tunnel,” testified Sheriff Dannels. “You’re looking at a large amount of drugs, money, and what you’re alluding to is those terrorists or those people who pay the price to come in our country and harm our citizens. I’m very concerned about that. If you can bring drugs or product through, you can bring terrorists through so it’s of great concern.”
Sheriff Dannels’ comments came in response to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) asking him if he agreed with comments made by a top U.S. general last week regarding terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last week, Gen. John Kelly, the Southcom commander, warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that smuggling networks in Latin America “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.”
Sen. Ayotte asked the Cochise County sheriff if he shared Gen. Kelly’s concerns.
“I 100 percent agree with what the general is saying,” responded the sheriff, later adding, “It’s going to happen.”
The sheriff agreed that terrorists could also bring in ingredients for weapons of mass destruction across the southwest border.
Gen. Kelly told the Senate panel last week that individuals from terrorism-linked countries such as Somalia and Pakistan are already using the regions smuggling networks to cross into the United States.
“In addition to thousands of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence, foreign nationals from countries like Somalia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, and Pakistan are using the region’s human smuggling networks to enter the United States,” testified the Southcom commander. “While many are merely seeking economic opportunity or fleeing war, a small subset could potentially be seeking to do us harm.”
“Last year, ISIS adherents posted discussions on social media calling for the infiltration of the U.S. southern border,” he noted. “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.”
Gen. Kelly also expressed concerns about the presence of Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the Latin America region.
He also warned that “Sunni extremists, while small in number, are actively involved in the radicalization of converts and other Muslims in the region and also provide financial and logistical support to designated terrorist organizations within and outside Latin America.”
The Islamic State is a Sunni group. Breitbart Texas warned that ISIS could use the Texas-Mexico border to enter the U.S.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera, who testified alongside Sheriff Dannels, indicated that nearly 6 out of every 10 illegal aliens who attempt to cross the southern border are not apprehended.
Breitbart News reported that at least 474 illegal aliens from terrorism-linked countries were apprehended in 2014 alone.