A top American general says that 100 would-be militants have already left small Caribbean countries to fight with Islamic State extremists in Syria – and could potentially get across the US border when they return home.
Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, chief of the US Southern Command, made
the remarks at a Pentagon briefing with reporters on Thursday. He
said that small Caribbean nations – such as Jamaica, Trinidad and
Tobago, and Suriname – as well as Venezuela are concerned about
the militants returning home to conduct terror operations because
they don’t have the ability to deal with the problem.
Top U.S. General: Sunni Extremists Radicalizing Converts, Other
Muslims in Latin America – Breitbart http://t.co/KXSe3LvxeH
— Edwin Mora (@EdwinMora83) March
The general said that while the number of people leaving to fight
alongside militants is small, the US takes for granted a
functioning legal justice system, the FBI, and layers of clean
police officers – which may absent in some of the Caribbean
countries. When recruits return, he said, they can’t be monitored
or checked. Once back in their country, Kelly said the recruits
could travel freely between nations and potentially get across
the border into America.
“Everyone is concerned, of course, if they come home,”
said Kelly, adding that in Syria the recruits would “get good
at killing and pick up some real job skills in terms of
explosives and beheadings and things like that.”
Kelly told reporters the sophistication of, and the amount of
movement going through, the smuggling networks through the
isthmus and Mexico overwhelms “our ability to stop
everything” via the US Border Control and the Department of
Homeland Security. But he said he has seen no indication of a
direct threat or scheme to attack the US.
“No one checks their passports,” the general said.
“No one, you know, they don’t go through metal detectors. No
one cares why they’re coming. They just ride the network.”
More than 15,000 foreign fighters have traveled into the Middle
East to join the Islamic State, according to the Washington Post.
In remarks made before
the Senate Armed Services Committee in advance of the committee’s
review of the Defense Authorization request for fiscal year 2016,
Kelly described the effects that a return of sequestration would
have on his command.
“In Latin American, in Southern Command [sequestration] will
be, simply put, a castastrophe. It will essentially put me out of
business,” Kelly told the panel.
Kelly said his area of responsibility is in narco-terrorism,
human smuggling, and the spreading influence of criminal networks
which are threats to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United
“The drug trade, exacerbated by US drug consumption, has
wrought devastating consequences in many of our partner nations,
degrading their civilian people and justice systems, corrupting
their institutions, and contributing to a breakdown in citizen
safety,” Kelly said in a written testimony.
Kelly said terrorist organizations could try to leverage the same
smuggling routes to move operatives who intend to harm US
citizens or bring weapons of mass destruction into the United