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Friday, August 29, 2014

ISIS on the US-Mexico border? Color me dubious... (UPDATE)

I may one day regret writing the above headline, but I don't think so. Here's the story that Judicial Watch is pushing. A whole bunch of right-wing blogs are treating this claim quite seriously...
Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas.
Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source. “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms.
Why would these "intelligence sources" be sharing info with an outfit like Judicial Watch, as opposed to (say) the Washington Post?

More importantly, why would ISIS be causing trouble in the US now?

Think about it. ISIS is trying to conquer the greater part of not one but two Middle Eastern countries, Iraq and Syria. That's a pretty big job. In order to reach that goal, they need every trigger-happy maniac they can get. If ISIS does succeed in fully establishing a Sunni state, they will have their hands full eliminating the Shiite minorities. Then they will have to deal with Iran. And if ISIS survives that, they've announced a desire to attack Israel.

In other words, the big fight is there, not here. That's why all sorts of Sunni die-hards have been traveling from the U.S. and Canada to the region where the big fight is raging.

Let me repeat that: The "jihadi flow" has been going from here to there. Not there to here.

If ISIS-affiliated terrorists were to strike within this country, what would they accomplish? Obviously, there could be but one outcome: The Obama administration (and the UK) would have both a casus belli and public support for sending American troops back to Iraq. ISIS would be facing a foe far more formidable than the Kurds and the Iraqi military.

So what do we make of this Judicial Watch report? Is JW making it all up?

Possibly. It is important to note that the right-wing media is spinning this story in such a way as to whip up hysteria over immigration. (Example.) JW's claim may be nothing more than the latest variant of a right-wing propaganda theme. This is an election year.

Nevertheless, it may be that case that JW really has talked to a few members of the spook community. If so, there's one key fact of the political universal that we all have to keep in mind: Spooks lie. (Not just American spooks -- all spooks.) They love to play disinformation games which are often unfathomable to mere mortals.

I don't know what's going on, but this whole thing gives me an ooky feeling.

Adding to the ooky factor was the U.K.'s exercise in High Weirdness.
There is no specific threat or information suggesting that an attack is imminent; however, the "severe" threat level indicates a terrorist attack is "highly likely." Severe is the second-highest of five possible threat levels.

"This is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore," Cameron said. "The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the U.K."

In the U.S., there were no current terror alerts on the National Terrorism Advisory System, according to its website.
So a terror attack is both "highly likely" and unlikely at the same time. Who's running this jihad -- Schrodinger's cat?

The alarm signals have sounded throughout Britain even though British authorities won't say exactly what has changed since yesterday. Nobody has made any reference to targets in the UK.

To justify this raised terror alarm, the British government has spoken about what ISIS is doing in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is indeed quite evil, but what they are doing in Syria and Iraq is not really terrorism (as that term is usually defined) but out-and-out war. By definition, a terrorist act is carried out as a covert operation in an area located well outside of a combat zone. ISIS warriors are engaged in open combat, conquering territory and peoples in a grotesquely brutal fashion. The situation is terrifying, but it's not terrorism.

Update. A reader reminds me that right-wingers have a long history of spinning these yarns...
Stories of terrorists and spies planning an attack across the Mexican border have been a mainstay of the paranoid since (at least) 1905, when the Hearst papers began publishing alarmist stories about the Japanese planning a U.S. invasion following their victory in their war with Russia. In the 1950s it was a Soviet army secretly massing on the border, then the Chinese, then Africans (!) then the Chinese again.
Ah yes. As I recall, the right-wingers spread truly idiotic fear-tales about Soviet invaders on the Mexican border as late as 1994 -- years after the fall of the USSR.

"Patriots" of that era took this nonsense seriously. In their minds, the "Spetsnaz" troops in Mexico were waiting for the go signal from Bill Clinton, the commie secret agent in the White House. The primary promoter of this line of unreasoning was one Linda Thompson, the Michelle Bachmann of her day.

The Spotlight offered a variant in which the Spetsnaz troops were already inside the United States and receiving training in "gun confiscation" by our own Special Forces. Some folks on the right still believe variants of this tale: See here and here.

Nevertheless, National Review (which isn't much better than The Spotlight these days) takes the Judicial Watch warning very, very seriously.

(You should read the comments appended to the afore-linked NR story. Yow! Bill Buckley must be spinning in his grave so fast he could tunnel into the next county. These whackadoodles make the Alex Jones audience seem like radiant exemplars of rationality.)
Comments:
Stories of terrorists and spies planning an attack across the Mexican border have been a mainstay of the paranoid since (at least) 1905, when the Hearst papers began publishing alarmist stories about the Japanese planning a U.S. invasion following their victory in their war with Russia. In the 1950s it was a Soviet army secretly massing on the border, then the Chinese, then Africans (!) then the Chinese again.

An interesting footnote to this craziness was that the U.S. government inadvertently spurred racist fears of foreign invaders in 1907 by launching the "Galveston Movement," which brought thousands of Russian Jews to the U.S. via Texas so to avoid the crowded East Coast cities.
 
Thanks for reminding me, je. Hilariously, the last time we heard rumors about Soviet troops massing on the Mexican border was 1994 -- after the fall of the Soviet Union!
 
Do a search for 'prayer rug mexican border'. These stories have been around since at least 2004.
 
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