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Canada’s lax border: Sharron Angle is right

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 19, 2010 10:25 AM

So Canada is “annoyed” with Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle because she pointed out that our northern neighbor’s lax immigration policies endanger America? Touchy, touchy.

The Canadian government doth protest too much:

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. has called on Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle to take back her claim that terrorists have come into the country over the northern border.

“Our Northern border is where the terrorists came through,” Angle told a group of Hispanic students last week. “That’s the most porous border that we have.”

The Nevada Republican is not the first to propagate this misconception, but it’s not true, Ambassador Gary Doer wrote in a letter to Angle.

“There have been no terrorist attacks on the United States coming from Canada,” the letter stated, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun. “None of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States from or through Canada.”

Angle didn’t say “9/11 hijackers,” unlike DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who falsely asserted that the 9/11 jihadis crossed the northern border to enter the country. Angle was likely referring to the well-known case of Ahmed Ressam, the would-be LAX millenium bomber, who was stopped by vigilant US Customs Inspector Diana Dean at the US-Canada border in Washington state. There are more.

Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian bomb-builder, entered the U.S. illegally through Canada in 1996 and 1997. He claimed political asylum based on alleged persecution by Israelis, was released on a reduced $5,000 bond posted by a man who was himself an illegal alien, and then skipped his asylum hearing after calling his attorney and lying about his whereabouts. In June 1997, after his lawyer withdrew Mezer’s asylum claim, a federal immigration judge ordered Mezer to leave the country on a “voluntary departure order.” Mezer ignored the useless piece of paper. He joined a New York City bombing plot before being arrested in July 1997 after a roommate tipped off local police.

And from 9/11 commission Janice Kephart:

I testified before the House Small Business Committee (Novemvber 2005), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration (June 2006) and Senate Finance Committee (August 2006) on issues of Canadian homegrown terrorism, fraud, and 9/11 Commission recommendations in regard to Canada. In those testimonies, I provided pages of specific information about terrorist cross-border traffic and what the U.S. needs to do to stop it. Some of it has already – or is in the process of – going into effect, including WHTI. I also addressed border incursions by suspected terrorists beyond that of Ahmed Ressam, the al Qaeda associate and Millennium Bomber caught in December 1999 trying to enter from Canada even after the French had repeatedly asked Canada to look for him as a terrorist fugitive. There are plenty of other examples of cross-border traffic, but perhaps most disconcerting are those terrorists with Canadian citizenship who have set their sights on the U.S.:

1. Mohammed Warsame was born in Somalia and sought refugee status in Canada in 1989. He became a naturalized Canadian citizen and moved to Minneapolis in 2002. He was arrested in December 2003 as a material witness in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. At the time of his arrest, he was a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. In January 2004, Warsame was indicted and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda. Warsame has admitted attending an al Qaeda training camp in 2000 and 2001 and receiving military training (weapons, martial arts). He attended lectures given by Bin Ladin and even sat next to him at a meal. Moreover, he fought with the Taliban and provided financial assistance to al Qaeda members in Pakistan once he had returned to the United States. See Immigration and Terrorism: Moving Beyond the 9/11 Staff Report on Terrorist Travel, p. 25.

2. Abderraouf Jdey studied biology at the University of Montreal. In 1995, he became a Canadian citizen, with news reports indicating he used a fake Tunisian passport and a claim of asylum to stay in Canada. In 1999, he received a Canadian passport and traveled to Afghanistan. This is what the 9/11 Commission said about Jdey:

Abderraouf Jdey, a.k.a. Faruq al Tunisi. A Canadian passport holder, he may have trained in Afghanistan with Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi and received instruction from KSM with Atta and Binalshibh. A letter recovered from a safehouse in Pakistan, apparently written by Sayf al Adl, also suggests that Jdey was initially part of the 9/11 operation at the same time as the Hamburg group. A videotape of Jdey’s martyrdom statement was found in the rubble of Atef’s house near Kabul following a November 2001 airstrike, together with a martyrdom video of Binalshibh. While both Binalshibh and Khallad confirm Jdey’s status as an al Qaeda recruit, KSM says Jdey was slated for a “second wave” of attacks but had dropped out by the summer of 2001 while in Canada. FBI briefing (June 24, 2004); Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, May 21, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 1, 2003. 9/11 Commission Final Report, Notes to Chapter 7, p. 526.

3. The FBI is currently seeking information on naturalized Canadian Amer Al-Maati. He is also listed on the National Counterterrorism Center website as wanted. His name was found on documents in Afghanistan. He is a licensed pilot who had vowed to hijack a plane and crash it into a U.S. building. In August 2004 there was an unsubstantiated report that he was seen at the Nantucket Airport.

4. The FBI also lists Canadian citizen Faker Ben Abdelazziz Boussora who is known to have a suicide note and concern did exist that he may try to reenter Canada to plan a terrorist attack. He is believed to have possibly entered the United States. The FBI site currently states that Boussara “is being sought in connection with possible terrorist activity within the United States.”

The list goes on. Canada has gone to great lengths to cooperate on border issues involving infrastructure and intelligence at ports of entry, and worked side-by-side with our Border Patrol, and remain openly engaged diplomatically with the U.S. on these issues. This is of grave importance. Yet, a denial from any democratic country – especially our neighbor with a shared 4,000 mile border – that terrorist travel is not an issue for cross-border traffic does not make either country any safer. As James Carafano and Frank Cilluffo suggest in their April 22, 2009 report “Canada and the United States: Time for a Joint Threat Assessment,” to even begin such an assessment requires both countries to acknowledge problems within their own borders.

Angle is absolutely spot-on about the porous northern border. She’s saying what homeland security officials have been saying for years and I’ve been reporting since the publication of Invasion in 2002.

Flashback March 2008:

Comprehensive immigration enforcement reform, however, means paying attention to all our ports of entry–air, land, and sea. And all our borders–southern and northern. In Invasion , I recounted how Border Patrol agents would stick orange rubber cones on vast, unguarded swaths of the northern border. I’ve reported on the security threat posed to the U.S. by Canada’s lax asylum policies, jihadi-friendly positions, and McCustoms’ attitude. Daniel Stoffman’s “Who Gets In” diagnosed the systemic ills of Canada’s immigration system, which in turn, poses dangers to us.

A new DHS report reveals that little has changed. Via USAT:

Montana has the longest unprotected border in the world with a sparse population and vast terrain on the U.S. side and 90% of Canada’s population within 100 miles on the other. That makes the area vulnerable to illegal crossings into the United States by terrorists and extremists groups, the Helena Independent Record says.

While the state’s northern border population is sparse, the area is highly traveled. More than 70 million international travelers and 35 million vehicles crossed the northern border last year. Agents made about 4,000 arrests and intercepted 40,000 pounds of illegal drugs, the newspaper reports.

“There is an undisputed presence in Canada of known terrorist affiliate and extremist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria,” according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security.

With Google Earth revealing 58 unmanned roads or trails leading in and out of the country, local law enforcement say they lack the manpower to properly guard the border. Currently, there are 190 officers working the northern border.

The Helena Independent Record has an excellent investigation of northern border vulnerabilities here.

The DHS northern border report is here.

And here’s a reminder of how vigilance–and behaviorial profiling–at the northern border saved untold American lives: Remember Diana Dean.

More flashbacks:

Terrorists crossing our borders

Congressional testimony of homeland security expert Gary Stubblefield, January 2000:

A continuing and obvious weakness in our defense against terrorism is the inadequacy of security along our Northern border. This is not a new issue. The problem is not difficult to describe. We have only 300 Border Control agents to protect a 4,000 mile border with 90 crossings. Many of the smaller points of entry are not staffed at night. Additionally, when people enter the United States from Canada, there is no requirement to present a visa or other documentation unless they plan an extended stay. We create no record of who enters the U.S. or determine if they subsequently depart.

Put another way, our security is so lax along our Northern border, Ahmed Ressam, who was apprehended with more than 100 pounds of high explosive initiator and four sophisticated timing devices, chose to cross into the U.S. at a checkpoint instead of over an open frontier. He obviously had confidence our security is so inadequate that he could easily slip into the U.S. and did not bother with finding an alternative route that is less protected. Ressem, according to a recent news article, may have been operating in the U.S. since 1997, which means he probably traveled back and forth across the border numerous times over a three year period without being apprehended. Clearly, terrorists such as Ressam believe our border security is a joke.

The inadequate security controls on our Northern border would not be such a concern if Canada had tougher laws to keep out potential terrorists. But as we are all aware, Canada has generous immigration laws. This translates to us through easy crossings from Canada into the United States. As a result, today there are at least 50 terrorist organizations operating in Canada. Canada has become a staging ground for terrorists to raise money, recruit new members, and plan attacks against America.

Canada is fully aware of this problem. A report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which is often quoted but nevertheless bears repeating, concludes the following: “Most of the world’s terrorist groups have established themselves in Canada, seeking safe haven, setting up operational bases and attempting to gain access to the USA.”

Canada is a close friend of the United States. It should be noted that, as a sovereign country, it has the right to establish whatever laws it wants regarding immigration policy. This said, and because Canada has lax immigration controls, we must take this factor into account when determining procedures and allocating resources to ensure America’s security.

Ahmed Ressam was apprehended with 100 pounds of high explosives and four timing devices. It is important to understand that he was not plotting to explode four, 25-pound, high-explosive bombs. This type of high explosive is often used as an initiator to detonate a much larger bomb. The timing devices trigger the high-explosives, which in turn ignite a much larger bomb made from materials such as ammonia nitrate or fertilizer. In my view, Ressam was planning up to four massive attacks on the scale of the Oklahoma Federal Building or World Trade Towers bombings.

As horrific as this scenario may seem, the terrorist threat to America is far more serious. We must consider the possibility that the next Ressam who crosses our border may be transporting not conventional explosives, but sarin gas. If terrorists succeed in attacking America with a chemical or biological weapon, casualties will not be in the hundreds, but in the thousands or tens of thousands.

Members of this Subcommittee, this is the threat we face as a nation, and to which we must respond, to protect America. It is critical that we tighten security in areas – such as our northern border – which are clearly lacking for effective security. We must establish a comprehensive, integrated strategy that responds to terrorism along multiple fronts.

To protect America, in my view, it is imperative that we accelerate the establishment of an entry-exit control system. The system must not only control all our border entries, it must also permit tracking aliens that have overstayed their visa permits.

As land ports of entry on our borders improve security, we can expect terrorists to respond accordingly. When future Ressams realize they cannot easily slip across our borders through established check points, they will seek alternative routes in the same manner as drug traffickers and illegal immigrants. The future Ressams will travel to more remote locations that are less secure. So we must also enhance security between check points. This can best be accomplished by technology and by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement resources. Our goal must be to improve detection and identification capabilities all along our borders and make available law enforcement personnel to effectively respond to violations.

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