There seem to be so many terrorists under Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw’s bed, it’s a wonder he can sleep at night. He pulls out their spectral shapes when he wants something. Then, in the light of day, he denies they are there. McCraw’s terror whispering is like a personal mood ring version of the old Homeland Security color codes.
The McCraw terror whisper first entered my ear in 2006 when I listened to him speak at a Republican state convention in San Antonio.
At that time, McCraw was Governor Rick Perry’s homeland security director. McCraw spoke first to a group of delegates behind closed doors. Then he emerged to tell reporters that international terror was just a two-hour drive away at the Mexican border. As I reported in the Houston Chronicle:
McCraw gave delegates a closed-door briefing before addressing reporters. He said last year there were 133,045 individuals from countries other than Mexico caught illegally entering the country through the Texas border.
“Individuals that came from Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan. We know we have an al-Qaida front. Those are the ones we caught,” McCraw said.
He acknowledged that only one individual had any suspected ties to terrorism, which he wouldn’t discuss. But he said anyone from a country linked to terrorism should be considered a suspect.
“If you think of it as an army of jihadists coming into the country to do corporate-style al-Qaida attacks, simultaneous attacks, everyone counts,” McCraw said.
Never having been one to take things at face value, I investigated McCraw’s statements: “What McCraw didn’t tell us that day is most of the people in the ‘countries other than Mexico’ category were from Central and South America. We also learned later that the person with suspected links to terrorism was a Yemeni woman whose cousin knew people with suspected ties to terrorist groups.”
A woman whose cousin knew somebody? My mother’s uncle, Ivy Miller, was a part of Benny Binion’s murderous gang of gamblers in 1940s Dallas. I don’t think that makes me a member of the Mafia.
Fast forward to 2015. There have been no terrorist attacks from the border since that day when McCraw terror whispered to the Republican delegates, at least no terrorist actions of the jihadist sort. There is no doubt of major border problems with drug smuggling and illegal immigration, but if you want to strike fear into people’s hearts, the remote threat of a Muslim extremist terror attack is the whisper of choice.
While the Texas Senate appears to be treating border security as the end-game of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s campaign theme from last year that there are terrorists at the Rio Grande, the House leadership has decided to treat border issues as statewide crime that merely originates at the river’s edge.
McCraw, who now is the head of the Department of Public Safety, has been asking the Legislature to give him 500 additional troopers and Texas Rangers to keep the border secure. As part of that sales job, a secret report from his department was delivered privately to state lawmakers to justify additional funding. In the report, McCraw whispers once again about what are now referred to as “special interest aliens” AKA, Muslim terrorists.
The report initially was obtained by the Houston Chronicle’s Brian Rosenthal, and DPS responded with what appeared to be a veiled threat against republication of the document. “[T]hat report was inappropriately obtained and [the Chronicle was] not authorized to possess or post the law enforcement sensitive document,” a department spokesman had said, according to The Washington Post. Since then, the DPS has posted a sanitized version of the report on its own Web site, mostly to remove law enforcement logistics. Its hints of terrorist infiltration are now part of the public record.
The report said Texas leads the nation in the arrests of “special interest aliens” at the border. “There is a legitimate concern that terrorists from around the world could exploit our country’s porous Southwest border to enter the U.S. undetected, if they have not done so already,” the report said. If they have not done so already – keep these words in mind as your read the following from the report.
“For example, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, a Somali who had crossed into Texas, was identified in a federal fraud investigation by the FBI as an active al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (AIAI) member, guerilla fighter, and human smuggler who helped smuggle several potentially dangerous Somali terrorists into the U.S., who he believed would commit violent acts if ordered to do so. There have also been other instances of Somalis covering up their terrorism involvement when seeking asylum. In May 2011, Deka Abdalla Sheikh and Abdullah Omar Fidse were indicted for lying to immigration authorities and the FBI about their connections to terrorism when they sought and obtained asylum after entering Texas through the Hidalgo Port of Entry in January 2008. According to court documents, Fidse came to the U.S. to conduct an unspecified “operation” and was once involved in a plan to attack the U.S. ambassador to Kenya.”
Dhakane did have a terrorist background, a fact he failed to disclose when he surrendered to U.S. Border Patrol agents in March 2008. His case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Department of Homeland Security. That would be those federal agencies who aren’t securing our border.
Sheikh and Fidse, a wife and husband, actually entered the country through an immigration service checkpoint. They told federal authorities they wanted asylum because terrorists had killed the husband’s father, which was not true. They were indicted on charges of lying to federal agents. The FBI obtained an informant audio recording in which Fidse bragged that he once cooked for Osama bin Laden in Somalia and that he had arranged a purchase of weapons that were destroyed. Fidse at first denied it was himself on the tape, but then admitted it while saying he made things up. “I like to embellish things…I want to be a politician.”
The DPS delivered its secret report to legislators in February. Two months earlier, state lawmakers had asked McCraw directly about terrorists entering the United States through Texas, he said there had been none. The Austin American-Statesman’s Kiah Collier had this to report:
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw on Thursday said there is “no credible information that a terrorist has crossed or will cross” the Texas-Mexico border, but that it is important to continue monitoring the area.
Steve McCraw and Abdullah Omar Fidse seem to have something in common. They like to embellish things.