Rep. Tony Gonzales represents Texas’s 23rd congressional in the House of Representatives. He is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief, with twenty years of service. Gonzales was deployed multiple times to the Middle East and Asia. He has a focus on defense, foreign policy, and intelligence. Since being elected to Congress, he has also worked to solve the problems of our porous southern border.
The crisis in Afghanistan and the relocation of refugees present Gonzales with an opportunity to raise concerns that newly radicalized groups will bring terror attacks to America. He tweeted, “Suicide bombs in Kabul today – suicide bombs in the U.S. tomorrow.” Gonzales’ district includes the largest stretch of the border with Mexico.
Suicide bombs in Kabul today – suicide bombs in the US tomorrow. Biden must IMMEDIATELY secure our southern border before it’s too late!
— Tony Gonzales (@TonyGonzales4TX) August 26, 2021
Our southern border is unsecured at a time when international terrorism is peaking. America please remain vigilant at all times. If you see something, say something.
— Tony Gonzales (@TonyGonzales4TX) August 27, 2021
Gonzales is warning that the violence in Kabul may lead to attacks stateside from people already here. Some migrants who have been picked up have turned up on terror watch lists. It is not out of the realm of possibility that nefarious acts are being planned by bad actors. This is our reality, especially since 9/11/01. Democrats want to paint Gonzales as someone sounding over the top.
Retired Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, a former Fort Bliss commanding general, says those planning terror attacks don’t have to test border security to inflict damage on American soil. “The idea that they would cross the border, they don’t have to; they can radicalize people already in our country – which they have shown that they can do and well.” He spoke in response to the deadly bomb attacks at the Kabul airport which killed 13 service members.
“Yes, (we’re) always concerned with our border not being secure, but I think it’s a bigger problem radicalizing people already in our country,” Pittard said.
Some of those refugees – up to a maximum of 10,000 – are being housed at the Doña Ana (New Mexico) Range of Fort Bliss, Texas. Pittard says the location provides room and safety for refugees and the community alike.
“Fort Bliss by population is in the top 5 installations in the U.S. Army,” he said. “There is plenty of space. There are places you can put the Afghan immigrants and keep them secluded until you do the proper checks […] so, there’s lots of room.”
He said ensuring proper screening of a large number of individuals involves inherent security concerns. “But I think the fact they’re on Fort Bliss or Doña Ana or McGregor Range … the harm to surrounding civilian population is minimal,” he added.
Pittard isn’t trying to sound like an alarmist, he is using his years of knowledge and experience to guide his opinions now. He concluded his command at Fort Bliss in 2013. Then he led troops on the ground fighting ISIS in Iraq in 2014. He says these terrorists are more hardcore than Taliban fighters who took over Afghanistan. ISIS and the Taliban have a history of fighting each other but at this point, we don’t know if they are working together now. He also says there is plenty of blame to go around. The United States went into Afghanistan for the right reasons, he said, after 9/11/01, but by the time Osama bin Laden was killed, it was time to begin to transition out.
Pittard says that it is unwise to leave Afghanistan without a long-term strategy. I think we’ve all seen in recent days that the Biden administration looks as though there isn’t a strategy past August 31 and the whole withdrawal operation has been conducted by the seat of their pants. All Biden wants to do is to be able to say our troops are out.
But leaving Afghanistan without a long-term strategy for the region may not be a wise decision, he said. “We’ve had two presidents in a row, Trump and Biden, wanting to leave Afghanistan. That’s not a strategy, that’s just leaving the region and the security of the United States. I’m very concerned about that. (I) wish it would have been different. We’ll see what happens,” Pittard said.
The former Fort Bliss commander said the presence of 2,500 American troops in the last year was sufficient to keep the Afghan security forces “in the fight” against the Taliban insurgents. But, “once they saw the U.S. leave, I think they felt like we abandoned them because I think that we did.”
He lamented the fate of those Afghan allies who want to leave but are being held back by the Taliban as well as women who stand to lose rights under the Taliban.
He said a fellow officer told him how an Afghan who was a former U.S. interpreter had to ditch his Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) documents as he approached a Taliban checkpoint. The would-be refugee was afraid of being harassed or killed by the Taliban if they found the documents that would allow him to leave the country. Now the former U.S. ally is having trouble getting out for lack of documents.
“We are better than that,” Pittard said. “We shouldn’t leave until the Americans are out and (also) the SIVs. That takes a certain amount of leadership and I’m just not sure we have that right now.”
DHS officials also have been talking about their concerns at the southern border after the events in Kabul this week. When the Taliban released prisoners around Afghanistan, senior Department of Homeland Security officials and national security experts said that the move poses a security threat on the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden isn’t heeding their warnings.
“We’ve always been surprised by the countries of origin we see individuals coming from along our southwest border. It’s more than likely some Afghans will arrive now as well,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s definitely a national security threat, and the strain of forces currently along the border would make it more likely that some would slip through illegally.”
The intelligence community warned the administration about terror threats at the southern border just weeks after President Joe Biden announced the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. National security officials warned the White House in a classified memo, first reported by the Free Beacon, that border patrol officers had arrested two Yemeni nationals on the terrorist watch list as they attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico. One of the two men was also on the FBI’s no-fly list. Their names have not been released to the public.
We know that the Biden administration has abandoned any real effort to secure the southern border. Biden isn’t using policies put into place by the Trump administration that worked. He also, apparently, has not heeded the advice of his military and intelligence officers. He’s going it alone and we see the disaster it has created. If we are relying on border control to thwart another domestic terror attack, we’re in tough times.
Large group of 200+ migrants being apprehended in La Joya, TX right now w/ more still crossing over & arriving right now. I know I sound like a broken record…but that’s how it is here. Every day. And this is only one tiny stretch of border. Men from Sri Lanka caught here today. pic.twitter.com/WgeMvszwef
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) August 28, 2021