by Raymond Ibrahim*
As the United States considers the Islamic jihadi threats confronting it from all sides, it would do well to focus on its southern neighbor, Mexico, which has been targeted by Islamists and jihadists, who, through a number of tactics—from engaging in da’wa, converting Mexicans to Islam, to smuggling and the drug cartel, simple extortion, kidnappings and enslavement—have been subverting Mexico in order to empower Islam and sabotage the U.S.
According to a 2010 report, “Close to home: Hezbollah terrorists are plotting right on the U.S. border,” which appeared in the NY Daily News:
Mexican authorities have rolled up a Hezbollah network being built in Tijuana … closer to American homes than the terrorist hideouts in the Bekaa Valley are to Israel. Its goal, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper that reported on the investigation: to strike targets in Israel and the West. Over the years, Hezbollah—rich with Iranian oil money and narcocash—has generated revenue by cozying up with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs and people into the U.S. In this, it has shadowed the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran, which has been forging close ties with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who in turn supports the narcoterrorist organization FARC, which wreaks all kinds of havoc throughout the region.
Another 2010 article appearing in the Washington Times asserts that, “with fresh evidence of Hezbollah activity just south of the border [in Mexico], and numerous reports of Muslims from various countries posing as Mexicans and crossing into the United States from Mexico, our porous southern border is a national security nightmare waiting to happen.” This is in keeping with a recent study done by Georgetown University, which revealed that the number of immigrants from Lebanon and Syria living in Mexico exceeds 200,000. Syria, along with Iran, is one of Hezbollah’s strongest financial and political supporters, and Lebanon is the immigrants’ country of origin. Just like only 19 jihadists were necessary to cause the devastation of September 11, 2001, only a handful of these 200,000 are necessary to wreak havoc north of the border.
A jihadist cell in Mexico was recently found to have a weapons cache of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and antitank munitions. The weapons, it turned out, had been smuggled by Muslims from Iraq. According to this report, “obvious concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah’s presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) operating along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
As far back as 2005, an article entitled “Islam is gaining a Foothold in Chiapas” showcased the inroads of Islam in Mexico:
Long a bastion of Catholicism, southern Mexico is quickly turning into a battleground for soul-savers. Islam, too, is gaining a foothold and the indigenous Mayans are converting by the hundreds. The Mexican government is worried about a culture clash in their own backyard… Muslim women in headscarves have become a common sight….
To appreciate the significance of the fact that Muslim headscarves “have become a common sight” in Mexico, consider the words of former jihadist Tawfik Hamid, who personally knew al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. In his book, Inside Jihad, he writes: “The proliferation of the hijab [Muslim headscarves] is strongly correlated with increased terrorism…. Terrorism became much more frequent in such societies as Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and the U.K. after the hijab became prevalent among Muslim women living in those communities.”
After discussing an increase in converts to Islam, the article continues by saying: “It’s a development that is beginning to worry the Mexican government. Indeed, the government even suspects the new converts of subversive activity and has already set the secret service onto the track of the Mayan Muslims. Mexican President Vincente Fox has even gone so far as to say he fears the influence of the radical fundamentalists of al-Qaida” [emphasis added].
Kidnappings, as part of a drug cartel or as part of a jihadist operation, which legitimizes crimes such as kidnapping and child slavery, have become increasingly common. To convert non-Muslims to their cause, Islamists also whip up—and then exploit—a sense of “grievance” against the “white man.”
In addition, according to counterterrorism experts in this report, Islamic terrorists blend in better with Mexicans than with Europeans, thereby enabling them to sneak into the U.S. across the southwest border. This Muslim cleric, for example, discusses how easy it is to smuggle a briefcase containing anthrax from Mexico into America, thereby killing at least some 330,000 Americans in a single hour.
Similarly, Michael Braun, formerly assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said that the Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America; however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S. Hezbollah relies on “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”
Only a few months ago, Washington announced that FBI and DEA agents disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States,” tied to Iran with roots in Mexico. The increased violence—including beheadings, Islam’s signature trademark—is even more indicative that Islamists are well ensconced in Mexico’s drug cartel.
The threat is not limited to Hezbollah; back in 2006, according to ISN, “Mexican authorities investigated the activities of the Murabitun [a da'wa, or missionary-outreach, organization named after historic jihadists along Spain's borders] due to reports of alleged immigration and visa abuses involving the group’s European members and possible radicals, including al-Qaeda.”
Even innocuous reports, such as this Muslim article, are cause for concern: “Today, most Mexican Islamic organizations focus on grassroots da’wa. These small organizations are most effective at the community level, going from village to village and speaking directly to the people.” Although this may not sound problematic, the strain of Islam being spread by many of these da’wa organizations is the radical, “Salafist,” anti-American variety. Here, for instance, is a popular Egyptian TV cleric saying that while Muslims must never smile to non-Muslims—who, as “infidels,” are by nature the enemy—they are free to do so if the Muslim is engaged in da’wa, trying to win over the infidel into the fold of Islam, especially if the potential convert can help empower Islam in any way.
These are but a few of the many reports on Islam in Mexico. The evidence that many Islamists in Mexico are plotting against the U.S., using all means—such as drug trafficking, which is not forbidden in Sharia law if it serves to empower Islam—is overwhelming.
Under various methods—from the violent to the subversive to the exploitative—Islam allows Muslims to lie and commit other duplicitous acts in the furtherance of Islam. Taqiyya [dissimulation] permits Hezbollah and other Islamists to engage in Mexico’s drug cartel, just as “pious” members of the Taliban in Afghanistan pursued the heroin trade. Aside from sheer violence, justified as “jihad,” or holy war, tactics pursued by Mexico’s Islamists include:
- Kidnappings and enslavement, for which Mexico is already notorious. Sharia permits kidnapping, and even enslaving the infidel, in this situation, any non-Muslim in Mexico. The Quran not only approves of this, but allows male jihadists to have sex with female captives of war (Sura 4, verse 3). Here, for example, is a Muslim politician trying to legalize the institution of “sex-slavery.”
- Extortion and blackmail, features of the Mexican landscape, are also permissible in Islam. According to Sharia, during jihad, Muslims are permitted to hold for ransom infidels to be sold back for large amounts of money. Here, for instance, is a popular Egyptian sheikh saying that the Islamic world’s problem is that it has stopped plundering and enslaving its infidel neighbors. He even boasts that under true Sharia, he could go to the local market and “buy” a female “sex-slave.”
In using subversive elements for da’wa, Muslims might comfortably use false arguments to turn Mexicans against their northern neighbors. For instance, they often argue that Islam is a religion of “racial equality,” whereas Christianity is the “white man’s” religion, imposed on their ancestors by racist whites who sought to keep them “impoverished” beyond the border. Islamist strategies in Mexico amount to trying to win the unbelievers over to their side, whether through conversion or just cooperation. For those who refuse to cooperate, they are infidels to be used in any way that seems appropriate.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related: Corruption, Counterterrorism, Islam, Latin America, Terrorist Groups, War Against Islamo-fascism