Uncovered: New State Department Records Confirming Arab Smuggling “Cells,” Al Qaeda Leader in Mexico
For more than a decade the U.S. government has known that “Arab extremists” are entering the country through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells,” according to State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch that reveal among them was a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI.
Some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States, the government documents say. The top Al Qaeda leader in Mexico was identified in the September 2004 cable from the American consulate in Ciudad Juárez as Adnan G. El Shurkrjumah. The cable was released to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.
The new intelligence records were released as a result of an ongoing JW investigation into the critical national security threats on the southern border, specifically those created by Islamic terrorists teaming up with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate and attack the U.S. In response to JW’s reporting in the last two years the Obama administration—through various spokespeople, including FBI Director James Comey—has vehemently denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in Mexican towns near American cities or entering the U.S. through the famously porous southern border.
The State Department documents, which include substantial redactions supposedly to protect classified and personal information, contradict this. JW obtained them as part of an investigative series into Shukrijumah, an Al Qaeda operative also known as Javier Robles. In December, 2014 Shukrijumah was killed by the Pakistan Army in an intelligence-borne operation in South Waziristan. But before he died Shukrijumah helped plan several U.S. attacks, including plots to bomb Oprah Winfrey’s studio and detonate nuclear devices in multiple American cities. For years Shukrijumah appeared on the FBI’s most wanted list and, despite being sought by the agency, he crossed back and forth into the U.S. from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas. JW has reported that, as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, Shukrijumah piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico.
The new State Department records show that U.S. authorities knew Shukrijumah was in Mexico because they say that the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the consulate in Ciudad Juárez used newspapers to distribute information throughout Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico about the Al Qaeda operative at the request of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in El Paso. This appears on page 17 of the documents, which are linked above in their entirety. Of interesting note is that the government uses an exemption that applies to classified information to continue to withhold some of the records when the entire file was already declassified back in September, 2014.
Information about Middle Eastern terrorists entering the U.S. through Mexico appears in a September 2, 2004 cable—declassified 10 years later—titled “CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT, A PROVEN CI TO USG IN THE PAST, REPORTS ARAB CELLS WITHIN MEXICO.” It explains that a reputable government informant went to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and provided information pertaining to suspect Arab extremists who have been smuggled into the U.S. through the Mexican border. “The confidential source (SUBJECT) stated his family member, who is a human trafficker, knows the exact whereabouts of three Arabs who are currently being hidden in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico,” the State Department cable reads. “Although not absolutely positive, one of the three is likely Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, alleged to be a Saudi Arabian terrorist cell leader thought to be in Mexico. SUBJECT also provided information on two smuggling networks, “cells,” that specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States.”
Many questions remain about the U.S. government’s relationship with Shukrijumah, but last spring JW obtained records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that indicate he was a Confidential Source/Informant for the government. Shukrijumah lived in South Florida’s Broward County and graduated from Broward Community College with a degree in computer engineering. Four months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks Shukrijumah fled the U.S. He was one of the suspected actors in a number of planned terror attacks in the U.S., including a plot to simultaneously detonate nuclear devices in several U.S. cities. Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla claimed to have trained with Shukrijumah to blow up U.S. apartment buildings using natural gas explosions.
In 2010 Shukrijumah was indicted in the Eastern District of New York for his role in a terrorist plot to attack targets in the United States—including New York City’s subway system—and the United Kingdom, according the FBI. The plot against New York City’s subway system was directed by senior Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, the FBI says, and was directly related to a scheme by Al Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United States.
A year earlier Shukrijumah helped plan a terrorist truck-bomb targeting Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago as well as the iconic Sears Tower. Two of his fellow conspirators—Emad Karakrah and Hector Pedroza Huerta—were arrested in 2014 for unrelated state crimes in different parts of the country. Karakrah got busted in Chicago on charges of making a false car bomb threat after leading police on a high-speed chase with an ISIS flag waving from his vehicle. Huerta, an illegal alien twice convicted for driving intoxicated, got nabbed in El Paso for drunk driving. Both Karakrah and Pedroza were released from custody in 2015 under highly unusual plea deals.
The men formed part of a sophisticated narco-terror ring, exposed in a JW investigative series, with connections running from El Paso to Chicago to New York City. The operation includes an all-star lineup of logistics and transportation operatives for militant Islamists in the United State, drug and weapons smugglers for the Juarez drug cartel in Mexico, an FBI confidential informant gone rogue and two of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. Shukrijumah was one of them and, though he’s dead, he is an important part of the puzzle and extremely relevant when connecting the dots in the narco-terror ring.