National security "experts" scoffed when President Trump insinuated that ISIS-backed terrorists might find their way across the southern border with Mexico to plan attacks inside the US. But as it turns out, the transnationl terror organization had been planning one such attack, according to a chilling confession from one captured fighter, according to a study published Thursday by Homeland Security Today.
Seized ISIS fighter Abu Henricki, a Canadian citizen with dual citizenship with Trinidad, last month said that he was sought out by the violent insurgency’s leadership to attack the U.S. from a route starting in Central America, according to Fox News.
In a chilling confession from a captured ISIS fighter who held dual citizenship with Canada and Trinidad, the group had been planning to send English speakers and westerners to sneak into the US via these smuggling routes, then target local financial centers.
"ISIS has organized plots in Europe with returnees so it seems entirely plausible that they wanted to send guys out to attack. The issue that makes a North American attack harder is the travel is more difficult from Syria," said Anne Speckhard, who co-conducted the study as the director of ICSVE and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. "So the idea that they would instead use people who were not known to their own governments as having joined ISIS might make it possible for them to board airplanes."
Henricki said he traveled to Syria with the intention of serving as an ISIS fighter, but was later told he could not take on soldier duties because of a chronic illness.
In late 2016, Henricki claimed to have been "invited" by the ISIS intelligence wing, known as the emni, to join other Trinidadians and launch financial attacks on the US.
The attacks were described to Henricki as designed to "cripple the U.S. economy," and he was said to have been informed that he would be issued false identification and passports and would be maneuvered from Puerto Rico to Mexico and then to the United States.
"The plan came from someone from the New Jersey state of America. I was going to take the boat from Puerto Rico into Mexico. He was going to smuggle me in," the ISIS cadre continued.
He further elaborated that he believed the scheme was aimed at New York financial targets.
"They wanted to use these people (to attack inside the U.S.) because they were from these areas," Henricki told the scholars, indicating that they were either from North America or were English speakers.
Henricki added that many other Trinidadians, who where ultimately killed in the fighting, were enlisted to do the same thing. However, Henricki then claimed he refused the mission and was subsequently thrown into an ISIS prison in Manbij where he was brutally tortured. His wife, also a Canadian, was imprisoned in a women’s prison where she endured psychological torture.
The plot has likely been scrapped, according to the report's authors, as those who had been recruited are probably now dead.
"This plot is likely dead as those who were pressured to join it are according to Abu Henricki now all dead and ISIS is in retreat as we know," Speckhard said. "That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t disregard that it was a plot. We should take thoughtful steps to prevent."
"We often hear about terrorists trying to enter the southern border in political debate, but I rarely have come across a real case. It surprised me to hear this was a real plot by ISIS to exploit our southern border. That’s concerning of course."
What's more amazing is the fact that more of these types of insider-focused attacks haven't been perpetrated already.
"Even better, however, is to get someone inside the actual company to attack its network from behind the firewall. That is much easier to carry out than a cyber attack from outside of the network, and this type of 'insider threat' is a major problem already for US companies," he explained. "An employee knows everything about his or her company, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. This type of person would be very effective at exploiting a corporate network and causing massive amounts of damage. What is really surprising is that terrorist groups have not already used US employees to attack their own companies."
For example, ISIS could recruit an American to get a job at a bank and then...bring it down.
Hamerstone pointed out that terrorist groups like ISIS have been able to recruit Americans and people in the U.K. to go to their training camps, "so it wouldn't be a huge stretch for them to get an American to get a job at a bank and then sabotage it."
"Think about what an insider in IT aligned with terrorists could do," he noted. "What's really scary to think about is that an insider can do almost anything to a company. There are very few limits on the type of damage a rogue employee could cause."
The bottom line: An ISIS-organized attack using seemingly innocuous English speaking operatives shouldn't be ruled out...
And the Democrats in Congress will still pretend there’s no crisis. What a disgrace.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 7, 2019
ISIS plotted to send terrorists through US-Mexico border https://t.co/RDWTIgRazH
...But that doesn't mean Democrats will stop pretending there isn't a crisis at the border.