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Porous American borders too tempting for terrorists to ignore

Cluster bomb
Cluster bomb

A troubling storyline is developing along the U.S. southern border—more high-powered weaponry. Law enforcement agencies on America’s southern border have also confiscated a variety of military explosive devices-- including sub-munitions.

Watch today’s SD6 segment here

Watch Kimberly’s 8/ 17 "Cluster Bomb" San Diego 6 News segment here

Watch Kimberly’s "Cluster Bomb" OANN TV segment here

Entering or exiting the United States, Juliette and Noe Ramirez were apprehended at the Texas/Mexico border on August 2, 2014 carrying sub-munitions, more commonly known as bomblets used in cluster bombs. “Juliette Ramirez was detained late Saturday night near the toll booth plaza north of the Del Rio International Bridge after a small explosive device was found hidden in a backpack,” the Del Rio News Herald reported.

According to the separate District Court charging sheets (link here), Ms. Ramirez and Mr. Ramirez were walking south toward the Mexican border when CBP/HSI agents “randomly” approached the pair and searched a backpack in their possession. Federal agents say they were stunned to find an explosive device. The discovery prompted further questioning of the Ramirezes, which subsequently led agents to a secondary location where 35 more sub-munitions were located. (Note: Anyone crossing into Mexico knows the U.S. focuses its attention on northbound traffic-- it’s Mexico’s responsibility to question pedestrians travelling south. Just look at the Marine still in Mexican custody for crossing into Mexico with his lawful U.S. firearms. Another suspicious aspect of the stop is that HSI, the Homeland Security Investigations do not routinely patrol the border - see following paragraphs.)

After Juliette Ramirez was read her Miranda rights she told Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent Omar Pedraza she was exporting the sub-munitions to Acuna, Mexico for $2,000. After further questioning, Ramirez also disclosed to HSI agents that 35 additional explosives were stored at her apartment. Agents conducted a “knock and talk” (meaning without a subpoena) at her residence and recovered the remaining sub-munitions that co-defendant Noe Ramirez said he stashed in a child’s closet.

The Laredo Texas Bomb Disposal Unit later identified the explosives as U.S. military-grade sub-munitions or components for deadly cluster bombs. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) in Texas was not called to the scene according to Nicole Strong. BATFE admitted they are typically called, but there is no specific protocol.

Department of Justice Public Affairs Officer Daryl Fields confirmed the arrest however he would not disclose what type of military sub-munitions the Ramirez’ were trying to sell. Several inquiries regarding the possibility of stolen sub -munitions from nearby Lackland Air Base or other storage facilities went unanswered. However, a part number should identify the origin or manufacturer of the sub-munitions.

The complaint against Ramirez states person (s), “did knowingly and unlawfully export or attempt to export, from the United States, any merchandise, article, or object, including but not limited to thirty six (36) United States Military grade sub-munitions, which are defense articles as defined under Category Five of the U.S. Munitions List, contrary to any law or regulation of the United States, in that the defendant had not obtained a license or written authorization for such export, in violation of Title 22.”

The bust represents a number of serious allegations. First, if Ms. Ramirez was a U.S. citizen why is ICE/CBP/HSI involved? According to ICE/HSI Public Affairs Officer Nina Pruneda, the investigation is part of a larger inquiry involving multiple agencies. “We’re trying to determine if this was a two person operation or a broader criminal conspiracy.” With 9/11 anniversary right around the corner and the latest threats from the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) it’s natural security concerns would be heightened. But, “did it raise an eyebrow? Sure,” Pruneda said.

What exactly is a cluster bomb?

A cluster bomb contains a number of sub-munitions that can look like a grenade to the untrained eye and upon impact release hundreds of projectiles on impact that injure people or damage equipment or vehicles. The U.S. used cluster bombs extensively in the Vietnam War and is one of 17 countries that continue to produce cluster munitions or reserve the right to do so. The majority of the world signed a Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty in 2010. However, the U.S. along with Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia and Turkey have not ratified the treaty (not surprisingly many of these same non-signatories are the leading weapons traffickers in the world today- for information- link here).

Radical jihadists know the US border is unsecure

There’s no doubt America’s southern borders are unsecure despite assurances from former Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano and others. The latest credible terrorism threat comes from the radical jihadi group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). This week the group beheaded American journalist James Wright Foley and posted the gruesome murder on YouTube. The disturbing execution, a dramatic escalation in violence against Americans now forces the Obama administration to recognize the eminent terrorist threat against the U.S as “beyond anything we’ve ever seen,” according to the Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Like any followers of Sun Tzu/Clausewitz, knowing one’s enemy is crucial, and if ISIS’ stratospheric rise to power in Iraq and Syria is an indictor, they know America’s weaknesses.

At a special Thursday Pentagon briefing Hagel described ISIS this way; "They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. This is beyond anything we have seen. They are an imminent threat.” Hagel also said “it (ISIS) is ideological not political.” Hagel omitted to state that the funding comes largely from American allies like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirate of Qatar (Story here).

Keeping this in mind, one of America’s largest weaknesses is the unsecure southern border. The recent migration by children illustrates just how easy it is to illegally cross into America. The daily onslaught of undocumented immigrants has stretched Border Patrol agents and resources thin and security has suffered.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, raised the stakes when he told an Oklahoma City affiliate that groups like ISIS pose significant problems for the U.S. “We're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation. They're crazy out there, and they're rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city.”

Confirming Inhofe’s warning is former CIA agent Mike Baker who told radio talk show personality Laura Ingraham that he believes the cartels are communicating with ISIS. “We’ve had good intel over the years about al Qaeda, about their efforts to coordinate with, as an example, Mexican an effort to try to exploit our southern border.” Baker said ISIS absolutely knows the U.S. border is unsecure. He describes the drug cartels as a business, “If there’s a revenue stream they can exploit, then they will, and the extremists understand that.”

The emerging narrative from DoD seems to make Syria’s President Bashar al- Assad central to the ISIS problem. The Obama administration plans to enable the Iraqis and Kurdish Peshmerga with the use of targeted airstrikes, “hoping” the terror organization simply goes away.

But seasoned insider, Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey said ISIS “will have to be addressed on both sides of what is at this point a non-existent border (Syria/Iraq). That will come when we have a coalition that takes on the task of defeating ISIS over time."

However, critics argue the military should stay home if they don’t address the ISIS problem in Syria and say “hope” is not a winning strategy, especially when the radical extremists make statements like Foley's execution. The group’s executioner “John” explained they were "no longer fighting an insurgency; we are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide. Aggression against the Islamic State is aggression against Muslims worldwide. They have accepted the Islamic caliphate as their leadership."

The fully prepared, allegedly British executioner brazenly looks at the camera during the beheading of the American and tells President Obama the “Islamic State Muslims have a right to live in safety and unless the U.S. leaves the terror group have no other choices but to kill Americans.”

For this reason Texas Rep. Ted Poe says America must eliminate the terrorist group. “We have an option: do nothing or eliminate them.” ISIS is “a group that cannot be negotiated with. We shouldn’t negotiate with them, and they have to be defeated. They want to kill anybody that disagrees with them on politics and religion, whether it’s Jews, Christians or even Muslims.”

What exactly is crossing the southern border?

Unfortunately Border Patrol as well as federal law enforcement has wrestled with weapons, drugs and explosives when dealing with transnational trafficking. In 2011 in Chula Vista, a city within San Diego County, federal law enforcement agents arrested 60 people in connection with an Iraqi criminal ring with ties to El-Chapo/Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel.

“The gang was accused of selling drugs, machine guns and 4 improvised bombs (IEDs) out of a social club for Iraqi immigrants in El Cajon, CA,” the Business Insider reported. “At least some of those arrested are also associated with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, an Iraqi gang based in Detroit that traffics drugs from Phoenix and San Diego to Michigan. The Chaldean mafia, formed in the 1980s, is predominantly made up of ethnic Iraqi Christians.”

Other reports along the southern border are equally disconcerting. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed to that they’ve seen a 'trend increase' involving the devices along the entire southwest border, although details were not disclosed due to ongoing investigations. He declined to speculate as to where the devices came from or to confirm that the incident is believed to be cartel-related. “It’s going a lot further than a triple homicide, but we do not have a suspect in custody,” authorities said.

And finally, a February 2013 International Assessment and Strategy Center report revealed; “There are credible reports from multiple sources regarding MS-13 involvement in the protection and movement of SAM 7s from Nicaragua to a clandestine arms market that operates in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, an area dominated by hardline former combatants of the Communist Party faction of the FMLN during the war.” Plus this is the region where the floods of illegal immigrants are coming from.

What can be done militarily to stop ISIS?

First, ISIS exists because Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar want it to exist, says Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, (ret) PhD, a decorated combat veteran and author. The leaders in these states were instrumental in securing funding, arms and support for ISIS. Without their support ISIS would be in deep trouble.

“Second, ISIS was designed by the Sunni Islamist leaders in Riyadh and Ankara from the beginning to be the leading edge of the Sunni War to drive Iran's Shiite allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon out of power. They were partially successful in Syria, but our unwillingness to support the Sunni Islamist cause left all but empty desert in the hands of Assad,” Macgregor explained. “Iran intervened to rescue Assad and at least 15-20,000 Iranians are fighting to save the Shiite Islamist State in Southern Iraq. Thanks to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq Iran's principle beachhead in the region is Iraq. As long as Iran controls it Iran also secures the oil fields in southern Iraq and its own oil fields just over the border inside Iran. In addition, Iran can stir up its co-religionists in Eastern Saudi Arabia and the Emirates as well as potentially threaten Sunni control of Mecca and Medina. Keep in mind that both sides are anti-Western, anti-Israel. Both sides kill Christians and Jews.”

Considering the volatile Middle East landscape, it looks more likely the U.S. has cultivated the emergence of a separate Kurdish State for its oil. In the past, the Kurds have supported America, but in order to survive long term the Kurds must come to terms with Turkey. Some of the Turks in Ankara view Kirkuk’s oil fields as Turkish property.

The complexity of the landscape, old foes, new foes and intense religious divisions present a lose-lose for America.

“We have no interest in siding with anyone,” Macgregor explains. “Europeans must confront the immigration danger and they must protect their borders as we protect (kinda) ours, but none of us should invest in securing victory for either side. In sum, we should stay out and let them fight it out!”

While America could easily defeat ISIS with airpower, 10,000 European or U.S. combat troops, armored fighting vehicles with no constraints on their operating freedom or (COIN) in a week and conquer most of the Middle East along the way, Macgregor says, “why bother?”


Something changed last week when the jihadists sparked worldwide horror and condemnation by releasing a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley.

The White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes drew a “red line” for President Obama; “If you come after Americans, we are going to come after you. We’re not going to be restricted by borders.”

While the terrorist group told President Obama if he continues airstrikes in Iraq, they would continue beheading Americans, the President defied the jihadist and upped the airstrikes to well over 100.

Obama also said he would encourage a post-Maliki Iraq to form an inclusive Sunni-Shiite government and asked neighboring countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to turn away from the extremists and fight against the radical Islamists. But if history is any precursor, expect America to go it alone ... again.

Previous story: President Obama begins airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq

The Islamic State seemingly moves with impunity and precision in Iraq & Lebanon: Link here

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Obama trained insurgents launch killing spree against Iraq then turn to Syria (Part One Link here)

Iraq, ISIS and trained Islamic insurgents (Part Two Link here)

Obama’s Regime change train stops in Ukraine: Link here

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© Copyright 2014 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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