WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans living along the U.S.-Mexican border have been warning that our porous frontier is a back door for terrorist entry into this country. Local, state and federal law enforcement officers, overwhelmed by the flow of human traffic across the border, have acknowledged the threat -- and been widely ignored by the mainstream media and "official" Washington. Last year, in little-noticed congressional testimony, FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed that "individuals from countries with known al Qaeda connections have attempted to enter the United States illegally using alien smuggling rings and assuming Hispanic appearances."
Now, thanks to the investigative reporting of my colleague at FOX News, correspondent William Lajeunesse, the monarchs of the media and the potentates on the Potomac can no longer ignore reality. Lajeunesse took the time to carefully digest a new staff report prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security. It ought to be required reading for every reporter and official in Washington, D.C.
Titled "A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border," the just-released report confirms what many have long suspected: Our border is a sieve, not a barrier, for radical Islamic terrorists transiting into the United States. The Investigations Subcommittee charges that from Sept. 11, 2001, to the present, hundreds of illegal aliens from countries "such as Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan and Afghanistan" were apprehended crossing into the United States.
But that's not all the bad news. Investigators also found:
-- In June 2006, seven Iraqis were caught in Brownsville, Texas;
-- In August, an Afghani man was caught crossing the Rio Grande into Texas;
-- Mueller has testified that a Hezbollah cell had been "dismantled" after officials discovered that the terror organization was smuggling operatives across the U.S.-Mexico border to carry out terror attacks inside the United States.
-- Individuals from countries with known al Qaeda connections have changed their Islamic surnames and adopted false Hispanic identities in order to escape detection and blend into American society.
-- Radical Islamic groups that support Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamiya Al Gamat are all active in Latin America.
All that is bad enough, but the bombshell -- as reported by Lajeunesse and confirmed in the congressional report -- is the role being played by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. It's well known that the oil-rich Marxist in Caracas has been busy spreading his anti-American "Bolivarian Revolution" throughout our southern hemisphere. But this investigation now concludes that Chavez's nefarious deeds go well beyond a weapons-buying spree and efforts to manipulate elections in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
According to the congressional report, "Venezuela is providing support --including identity documents -- that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups The Venezuelan government has issued thousands of cedulas, the equivalent of Social Security cards, to people from places such as Cuba, Colombia and Middle Eastern nations that host foreign terrorist organizations." These documents can be used to obtain Venezuelan passports and American visas, which in turn allow the holder to elude immigration checks and enter the United States.
Nothing in the report comes as a surprise to Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). His new book, "In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America's Border and Security," is full of anecdotal information that substantiates the charges made by the House Homeland Security Committee staff. Tancredo notes that a group of Pakistanis were recently apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border with fraudulent Venezuelan documents.
Somehow, most of this has eluded the crack journalists who purport to write and report "news" for our so-called mainstream media. Even Agence France-Presse took notice that al Qaeda had established a "clandestine travel service" south of the border to help move operatives into the United States. Though American pundits have been quick to accuse citizen organizations like the Minutemen of being "vigilantes" or worse, the people with the poison pens have paid scant attention to the realities contained in this report -- most of which was already in the public domain.
Doubters who cannot accept how essential it is to plug the holes in our southern frontier should read this report and wake up to a clear and present danger. For those who still have trouble understanding, the concluding lines of Section III on Page 32 should suffice: "Given the ever-present threat posed by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations -- a threat that has been underscored by the recent events in London and the vulnerability of our borders -- the need for immediate action to enforce our borders could not be more apparent."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.