2005 March 13 Sunday
FBI Report Questions Al Qaeda Capabilites In The United States

Al Qaida's ability to strike the US is questioned by a secret FBI report.

March 9, 2005 A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News concludes that while there is no doubt al Qaeda wants to hit the United States, its capability to do so is unclear.

"Al-Qa'ida leadership's intention to attack the United States is not in question," the report reads. (All spellings are as rendered in the original report.) "However, their capability to do so is unclear, particularly in regard to 'spectacular' operations. We believe al-Qa'ida's capability to launch attacks within the United States is dependent on its ability to infiltrate and maintain operatives in the United States."

US law enforcement agencies haven't been able to find any sleeper cells in the United States. Though if you read the full article you will see they cite instances of Al Qaeda members marrying Americans to get access to the US and other connections between Muslims in the US and Al Qaeda members.

The 32-page assessment says flatly, "To date, we have not identified any true 'sleeper' agents in the US," seemingly contradicting the "sleeper cell" description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.

Of course it is possible that some sleeper cells have been missed. But we have not been attacked again in the US for about three and a half years. Internal monitoring efforts have been greatly increased since 9/11. Before 9/11 lots of areas of enforcement related to terrorist threats were incredibly lax. In spite of considerable Bush Administration efforts to keep border and immigration enforcement lax for the benefit of illegal immigrants the overall trend has been toward more rigorous efforts to track potentially dangerous foreigners.

Europe faces a much larger threat because Muslims are a larger percentage of the population of some European countries, have more fellow Muslims to relate to in Muslim cliques. They are also in closer proximity to and able to maintain more on-going relations with Islamic co-religionists in their countries of origin. My guess is we will see one or more terrorist attacks in Europe before we see another attack in the US.

While the Bush Administration is expending a great deal of blood and money to politically remake the Middle East it continues to be my view that most of our efforts at defense against terrorists ought to be focused on a layered defense of our own territory. We should be pursuing more policies designed to make it hard for terrorists to enter and operate in US territory. Tougher rules on visa eligibility coupled with bigger efforts to investigate the backgrounds of visa applicants would pay far richer dividends for fewer dollars expended than multiple hundred billion dollar invasions. Serious efforts to enforce border security by making illegal entry from Mexico impossible would close off a major alternative means of entry for terrorists.

An increase in efforts to do data mining to search for financial transactions that connect terrorists would be cheap and highly cost effective. However, such efforts elicit a lot of political opposition. Obstacles to the use of electronic means to track terrorists have gotten so ridiculous that one government panel opposed the use of Google searches by intelligence agents to find connections between potential terrorists. Also, opposition to religious and ethnic profiling erects additional barriers in the way of efforts to identify terrorists.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 March 13 02:07 PM  Terrorists Activities

GUYK said at March 13, 2005 2:43 PM:

I also would prefer a sealed border with Mexico. I do believe that provisions could be made to insure and adequate number of tempory guest workers or even permanent immigration with green cards and still have a sealed border. It seems to me that it would be in the best interest of national security, even if it might not be in the best interest of Mexico.

Many years ago I had a poly sci prof who claimed that illegal immagration from Mexico served as a safty value for the Mexican government. He went on to explain that revolutions are the result of unfilled expectations of the public. He furthur claimed that the majority of illegals from Mexico were somewhat educated and only crossed the border in hopes of fulfilling their expectations. The peons had no expectations of a better life--they worked from daylight to dark just to feed their families and the Mexican government never worried about them, only those with some education who knew enough to realize there was a chance of a better life--through either immigration or revolution. Immigration was easier.

I have not done enough research on the issue to make an informed decision. Could he have been correct?

Randall Parker said at March 13, 2005 3:21 PM:


The average level of education of Mexicans crossing the border is 8th grade.

Mexico had a long stretch of no revolution before the rapid influx of illegals that began in the 1970s and accelerated thereafter. I think the revolution threat is exaggerated. It is not a convincing argument for radically changin the demographic character of the United States.

Immigrants do not improve much in later generations. See a table on Hispanic educational attainment in the US across 4 generations after initial immigration. There is no hope for the future with these people without genetic engineering to boost IQ.

crush41 said at March 13, 2005 9:35 PM:


I know the analyses on Parapundit are generally above partisan squabbling, but might you opine about the political reasons as you see them for the perpetual prevarication over the border situation by US politicians? In the "Mexican Immigrants to US" piece you point out the obvious--that larger labor pools depress wages and make it more difficult for the natives in that labor pool to compete as the pool expands. Why the hell doesn't the Democratic Party do something about this? I thought that they were the working-class party, worried about jobs being outsourced, and yet refusing to protect them here.

Polls show that Mexicans living in the US do not vary much from the general population in terms of border restriction, so I don't see a huge loss there. On the flip, the Republican Party seems to be missing an enormous opportunity to gain ground among blue-collar working class natives (traditional Democrats) who are becoming increasingly disgusted by the liberal social values of the Moore/Franken/Dean-wing of the Democratic Party and will be more than happy to switch sides if they perceive doing so will help their wallets.

Randall Parker said at March 13, 2005 10:15 PM:


There are multiple groups with multiple sets of motives on the pro and anti side of immigration. I don't have time to try to list them all and all their motives. I think I've described some of them in the past though. Have you been thru my various immigration archives? Here are some brief comments on some of the interests at work:

You have to keep in mind for each ethnic group that the leaders have different interests than their masses. So, for example, the black leaders are basically promoting immigration policies that the vast major of blacks are opposed to. Most blacks correctly see Mexicans as competitive threats to them in the labor force and also in the hand-out line for racial preferences of various sorts.

Hispanic leaders in the US want more Hispanic followers because that helps them win elections. Also, they do not to admit that their group is problematic for the rest of us because they'd see that reflecting on them personally. They have both pride and self interest for denying the obvious.

Jews who are pro-immigration are motivated by various mixes of factors. One is a resentment and fear of gentile whites whose power they want to dilute. Another is a belief that making all groups into minorities will somehow protect their particular minority group. Also, they remember that Jews had a hard time escaping the Nazis because so few countries would let them in. Plus, they favored loose immigration rules for other ethnic groups as part of a deal to allow Jews to get out of Eastern Europe during the Cold War and come to the United States.

Yes, the Republicans stand to gain more by being tough on immigration since they'd pick up working class white votes as well as some black votes. But they insist on going for mor eHispanics. There are a number of reasons for this.

John S Bolton said at March 13, 2005 11:00 PM:

The current response to these enormous terror attacks is rationally indefensible. Wars and interventions to go on the offensive against the hypothesized root causes of terrorism cost hundreds of billions a year; yet a defensive policy encompassing also a strict immigration control would save money. New immigrants can almost never be net taxpayers when they are selected on an antimerit basis. The administration has aped Soros' line about opennness value. Valuing openness to the hugest terrorism, or to anything lethal and bad, is obviously contradictory and irrational. One would then be valuing that which one does not value, a circumstance that indicates that someone is lying.

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