Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Americas Hidden Security Threat

Is a Mumbai-style terrorist attack just around the corner for the U.S.? Is America--including its infrastructure and transportation--ready for it? After speaking with many real experts in this field, I believe we are not. As I’m writing this, reports indicate that a terrorist may have just entered the country with plans for an attack. Law enforcement has done an excellent job in preventing attacks in the U.S., but the combination of porous borders and the ease of credit card fraud means terrorists can enter this country without a dime in their pocket and still have the resources to pull off an attack. To top it off, some state’s gun laws make the purchase of high-powered automatic weapons too easy. It’s not just big-target cities such as New York that should be worried--terrorism could happen anywhere in America. And yet, it seems that the U.S. and its government isn’t taking these threats seriously enough. How is that possible?

Problem No. 1: Our Borders Are Porous

Terrorists being led by well-paid mules can cross the Mexican border without notice. The odds are in their favor as the chance of being caught at the border is pretty slim. According to a 2006 report by the House Committee on Homeland Security, 200 Lebanese, several believed to have terrorist ties to Hezbollah, illegally entered the U.S. through the Mexican border in 2002. This report also revealed that 1.2 million aliens were apprehended in 2005 alone, 650 of which were from “28 special interest countries”--including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Syria to name a few. These are countries designated by the intelligence community as having the potential to export persons who may bring harm to the U.S.

The directors of both the CIA and FBI have testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Al Qaeda has considered entering the U.S. through the Mexican border. It’s safe to assume that this has already been accomplished. The Border Patrol estimates that it captures one in four people who attempt to enter our borders illegally every year. Based on the 2005 numbers, that would mean 1,950 from “special interest” countries made it into this country without being apprehended in that year. I would then estimate that from 2005 through 2009, 9,750 people from special interest countries made it across the border safely. Even if only 5 percent were persons who could be designated as potential terrorists, that number would be 487. Politicians need to consider the real terrorist threat from an open border rather than simply the danger of losing the Hispanic vote if the borders are closed.

Problem No. 2: It’s Too Easy to Commit Credit/Debit Card Fraud

The next step for a U.S.-based terrorist would be to raise money to plan and execute an attack. When I was an NYPD Detective back in the 1990s, I was arresting many foreign nationals for committing credit card fraud. This is an easy crime to commit and get away with. In virtually no time, terrorists can make themselves a quick $10,000. Many whom I arrested were from Pakistan; they knew exactly how to commit fraud, and they did it well. I was told that many come to the U.S. just to commit ID theft and credit card fraud because it’s so easy. In some of the cases I worked, the last charge with a stolen or fraudulently obtained card would be in Karachi, Pakistan, and then I knew the perpetrator had left the country and the case was over.

Another easy way of making thousands is to open accounts in several banks, put in some cash, take it out via ATM, and then claim the money was fraudulently removed after you lost your card with your PIN number on it. I have seen hundreds of people make thousands of dollars doing this over a small period of time. Most large banks will pay the claim quickly, treating it as a customer service issue. The amount of Identity and credit card fraud that goes on today is at epidemic proportions and there’s no stopping it.

Problem No. 3: Too Few People Report Credit Card Fraud to Authorities

The reality is that no one knows the exact amount of ID theft that is going on in this country. Why? Because most, is not reported to law enforcement. If a person’s account falls victim to fraud, all the victim must do is call the bank, and they are reimbursed. Some banks even tell their customer that there is no need to make a police report. Federal regulation does not require the bank to have the victim make a police report. It is my experience that most don’t. Those who try to make reports are often hampered by law enforcement, which make it very hard to do so.

We have made it far too easy to commit these types of crimes. It is my assessment that terrorists have virtually free rein to commit ID theft and that the odds of being caught are slim to none. If the fraud is revealed at this stage of planning an attack, by the time they are identified, the attack will have most likely occurred.

Six Ways to Decrease Credit Card Fraud

How do we deal with this? First, we must require that everyone makes a police report. Second, we must make it easier for the victim to report the crime. Many victims are stopped from making reports because the police department requires a note from their bank saying they were a victim; this is a ludicrous requirement. Third, banks must be required to identify someone opening an account by using companies that can truly identify an individual or by asking the individual questions obtained from their credit report. Fourth, no one should be allowed to open an account unless they are legally in this country. Fifth, bank management needs to start taking fraud a lot more seriously than it currently does. Sixth, banks must stop paying claims where people allege losing their cards with their PIN number written on the back of their card.

Problem No. 4: Purchasing a Gun without ID is Easy

Let’s say a terrorist made a quick $5,000 committing this type of fraud. With the cash made, he or she heads to a southern state where it’s possible to buy weapons in a parking lot of a gun show with virtually no ID. It’s here where weapons such as semi-automatic assault rifles can be purchased, along with 30-round clips and ammunition. A semi-automatic weapon such as an AR-15 or those similar to AK-47s can easily be purchased without a police background check or ID.

These gun shows have not only contributed to the flow of illegal guns to the northeast, they are now also a terrorist threat that must be addressed. I, for one, think that all American citizens with no criminal record have the right to bear arms. However, some common sense has to be injected into this debate. All persons purchasing weapons need to have background checks conducted. If this was done, it would significantly reduce the chance of terrorists purchasing weapons at a gun show. Of course a terrorist could purchase a gun on the street, or have someone else purchase it for them, but for someone new to this country, that may be more difficult. Having to enlist a third party or buying a gun on the black market could also put a terrorist at risk of a law enforcement agency picking up on his or her actions. Purchasing a weapon at a gun show would more than likely keep a terrorist under the radar.

Problem No. 5: Not Just Big Cities are Terrorist Targets

Now that our terrorist has his weapons, all he or she needs to do is pick a pedestrian-rich target. It’s that easy: a train station, hotel, mall, or--my biggest fear--a school. This would be a suicide mission, of course, and police response would be quick to limit casualties, but it doesn’t matter to the terrorists. The act of injecting sheer terror in the minds of Americans is a win for them. A semi-automatic AR-15 can fire between 700 and 900 rounds per minute. Multiple shooters can quickly sustain scores of casualties in a pedestrian-rich environment.

Those who feel extra safe by living outside of major cities could also be targeted for such an attack. No one is immune, and it is more likely that a city such as New York, which has long been a target of choice for terrorists, may now be too risky because of added security. Terrorists may have to change their game plan and attack smaller cities or towns that are not so well protected, even if it’s just to show Americans how vulnerable they are to attack and that there is no safe place in the U.S. from jihad.

Problem No. 6: Our Government Isn’t Taking These Threats Seriously Enough

My fear is that the government will wait until something like this occurs before the gun shows are finally regulated, the borders are secured and financial fraud is taken seriously. During an interview with Bob Woodward in July 2010, President Obama said, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger." I’m sorry but that does not give me any confidence. This lackadaisical attitude on the threat to the U.S. should give Americans pause. Politics needs to be taken out of the equation and protecting the lives of the American people should be paramount.

Americans need to realize that this is a threat that we have to live with for years to come. We must do everything humanly possible to protect our way of life and the citizens of this country. We must close these gaps in our homeland security to make it much harder for terrorists to plan and execute an attack. The more risk a potential terrorist takes to commit an act, the more likely we are to apprehend them before the attack, and that’s what we want. We must stop making it easy for them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is It Time To Deal With Iran or is it Now Too Late?

For years now, Iran has been conning the West into believing that they can and will negotiate like sensible human beings. With the help of Russia Iran fueled up their Bushehr nuclear reactor on August 21, 2010. It is now too late to strike it because once fueled, it becomes too dangerous due to the release of radiation. Iran has won a major victory by conning the world. While the Obama administration, Europe and especially the UN play “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”, Iran has built itself up to a point where they now have long range missiles that can strike parts of Eastern Europe and Israel. They will soon have the capability to strike France, Spain and Germany.
With Iran’s capability to strike Europe and Israel what might we expect? If Iran has somehow secretly been able to produce a nuclear warhead that can be utilized on their missiles, the blackmail could begin. Suppose we don’t even discuss nuclear and assume that they have hundreds of new long range missiles that can strike Europe and Israel. Those alone can cause thousands of deaths. If Iran chooses to make some crazy demand which is not agreed to, i.e. pull U.S Troops out of the Persian Gulf, have Saudi Arabia cut oil production in half, or cut off oil exports to the U.S. and Europe, they can threaten to attack Europe, the Saudi oil fields, or Israel.
The preceding is similar to a scenario in the book, “The Next War”, written in 1996 by Caspar Weinberger (Secretary of Defense under President Reagan) and Peter Schweizer. In their book, Iran makes two nuclear strikes, one in Europe and the other in the Gulf because their demands are not met. Ironically, the nuclear strike by Iran in Italy which is not countered by a strike from Europe is countered by the U.S. This was written 13 years ago!
Besides Israel, Europe is the second most vulnerable, so why wouldn’t Europe defend itself and strike Iran if they were attacked by them? The probable reason is that it’s easier to let the U.S. and Israel act and have them take the blame for any counter attacks or any other repercussions that might occur. The U.S. and Israel should not fall into that trap. Europe has nukes and an army. They should utilize it to protect their Union. Iran has no capability of striking the US with a missile, so it should really be incumbent upon Europe and the other countries in the Persian Gulf to make sure such a scenario never occurs. Europe, the Saudis, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel should be working together to spearhead an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites; we should help, but not be the lead.
Israel, the one country that has been warning us all to do something before Iran gets too powerful, could take the first hit. Israel will have to attack Iran’s nuclear sites just to protect itself; and at the same time, target the new missiles that can strike inside their country. Because of the new long range missiles this must be done soon possibly triggering WWIII. The world would blame Israel; but we know who would really be to blame: the UN Security Council. “Why”? It is the complacency, denial, and apathy of the free world and the UN who sit by as Iran becomes more powerful. This is similar to Hitler’s build up that started WWll. Is history repeating itself?

If nothing is done, what I call the “Perfect Storm” could occur. In the worst case scenario, Iran could strike with all of their strength at Israel, the Saudi oil fields, American troops in the Persian Gulf, and cut off the flow of oil in the Straits of Hormuz. Russia could decide to take advantage of the West’s weak position and take back some of the old USSR. China could decide to take back Taiwan. Who could stop them? NOBODY! The West would be so bogged down in the Persian Gulf, our military would not be able to adequately respond. The chance of the “Perfect Storm” occurring is highly unlikely; it just shows what is possible. All the left wing liberal appeasers who insisted on negotiating (being conned) for 10 plus years, would find their children drafted to fight and die in a war that could have been prevented by dealing with Iran when it first started its nuclear program.
If Iran is not dealt with soon, it will be too late; and my scenario and the one noted in Weinberger’s book could come to fruition. This could result in millions of deaths. Can we let that happen? Presently, the West is negotiating itself right into WWlll. Is the free world stupid enough to wait for Iran to test a nuke before they wake-up? Based on the past, I believe so. I believe that if Israel is refused help in this situation by Obama and the rest of the world, Israel will have to strike with their tactical nuclear weapons. It’s really their only option to significantly reduce retaliatory strikes from Iran. It will strike at Iran, and the world will have quite an awakening. Innocence will then again suffer for the world’s willful ignorance.