Growing fears that Al Qaeda emissaries are looking to tap into well-worn smuggling routes along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border have led to a security crackdown in recent months as well as new levels of official cross-border cooperation, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials tell the Los Angeles Times. Officials say they have no hard evidence of an Al Qaeda presence in Mexico. But intelligence reports, security alerts and other recent incidents have raised fresh concern that terrorists view America’s porous southern border as a window of opportunity.
“We are seeing a pattern of terrorist suspects exploring opportunities to get hold of Mexican passports and documents and infiltrating into the U.S. through Mexico,” said Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. A major concern, he said, is that terrorists will use South America as a launching pad to slip into Mexico and ultimately the United States, using smuggling rings or forged documents. Counterterrorism officials said that Islamic terrorist groups have long used the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay as a base for fundraising and recruiting.