Many Americans might have felt surprised by recent news that the U.S. Border Patrol in Arizona caught 11 Iranian migrants who crossed the southern border from Mexico.
But this crossing is not surprising in one insular quarter: an international cadre of intelligence and law enforcement officers who work on this chronically misunderstood threat for the American homeland security establishment. For them, southern border crossings by Iranians, as well as by migrant travelers from other countries of terrorism concern, like Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, trigger an almost routine response the public never sees.
My new book, America's Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation's Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration, reveals these responses as part of a hidden American counterterror effort that has long regarded this human traffic as a distinct national security border threat and which has worked to neutralize individuals who might show up to the border seeking to eventually attack. The book also shows Americans step-by-step how thousands of Iranians and travelers from all of the world's many other countries of terrorism concern reach the southern border every year and what the United States is doing throughout the Americas to stop it.
The mission was always and still is to stop border crossings of travelers from countries of terrorism concern like Iran, or to at least make sure arrivals are not malevolent spies or terrorists.
What's Happening with the Iranians
Take the Iranian travelers just caught in Arizona. One main prong of America's covert border war flags border-crossing migrants from Iran for intense examination. Once the arrival flag goes up, federal officers interrogate the migrants in person for true hearts, minds, and intent while collecting intelligence necessary to hunt down their smugglers in Latin America. It's an imperfect system when it comes to trained or good liars, but, as the book shows, has caught jihadist travelers.
Almost certainly, American officers are working over each and every one of the Iranians who just got caught, especially amid recent Iranian vows to retaliate for the January 2020 U.S. drone-strike assassination of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani.