Tagged: Southcom

Muslim population in Latin America grows 25% amid radicalization concerns

(BREITBART) — Islam had an estimated 3 million adherents in Latin America and the Caribbean as of the end of last year, marking an increase of nearly 25 percent from the 2.3 million who were residing there in 2010, a Breitbart News analysis of U.S. Department of State (DoS) data shows.

Among the Muslims in the region are people who emigrated from Muslim majority countries – including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan – and locals who converted. Most of them are recent migrants and descendants of those who made the journey years and even generations ago, namely Palestinians, among others.

The most recent data found in the International Religious Freedom Reports issued annually by the DoS reveal that there were at least an estimated 2,990,000 Muslims residing in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015.

In 2010, the number was about 2,290,000. That means the Muslim population grew by nearly 700,000 (23 percent) between 2010 and 2015. Some experts have indicated that Shiites outnumber Sunnis in the region. Iran’s growing influence has sparked concern within the U.S. government.

DoS, also known as State, did not include estimates for all the countries in Latin America and Caribbean, so the actual number of Muslim residents there could be much higher.

Various sources, including State, show that in 2015 there were concentrations of Muslims across the region: in Brazil (1.5 million); Argentina (750,000); Colombia (10,000); Venezuela (100,000); Panamá (14,000); Suriname (81,200); and Trinidad and Tobago (60,000).

Breitbart News’ analysis comes nearly a month after the top U.S. commander in Latin America and the Caribbean warned that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is actively recruiting and radicalizing converts in his area of responsibility.

In fact, Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, chief of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), revealed earlier this year that “hundreds” of Muslims from countries in the region, primarily Trinidad and Tobago, have traveled to the Middle East to fight on behalf of ISIS. Some of those nations have expressed concern about the possibility of such individuals returning radicalized and launching attacks.

They are also worried about self-radicalization in the region. Panama became the first Latin American country to join the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

Both SOUTHCOM and the State Department have recently warned that ISIS and the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, are operating in the region.

Moreover, the U.S. military has sounded the alarm about human trafficking groups that specialize in bringing in individuals from terror-linked countries into the United States. Hundreds of them have been recently apprehended trying to sneak across the southwest border and into the U.S. It remains unknown how many actually got through.

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Southern command warns Sunni extremists freely cross U.S. border with help of S. American alien smugglers

(WASHINGTON FREE BEACON) — Sunni extremists are infiltrating the United States with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing U.S. borders with ease, according to a U.S. South Command intelligence report.

The Command’s J-2 intelligence directorate reported recently in internal channels that “special interest aliens” are working with a known alien smuggling network in Latin America to reach the United States. The smuggling network was not identified.

Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, did not address the intelligence report directly but said Sunni terrorist infiltration is a security concern.

“Networks that specialize in smuggling individuals from regions of terrorist concern, mainly from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Middle East, and East Africa, are indeed a concern for Southcom and other interagency security partners who support our country’s national security,” Garcia told the Washington Free Beacon.

“There are major hubs that serve as entry points into the region for migrants from those areas of concern attempting to enter the U.S. along our border with Mexico,” she said.

The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit, Garcia said.

“In 2015, we saw a total of 331,000 migrants enter the southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico, of that we estimate more than 30,000 of those were from countries of terrorist concern,” she said.

Another problem in dealing with migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia is a lack of information among the governments of the countries used by potential terrorists for transit.

The exploitation of alien smuggling networks by terrorists until recently had been dismissed by both American security officials and private security experts as largely an urban myth.

However, the Southcom intelligence report revealed that the threat of Islamist terror infiltration is no longer theoretical. “This makes the case for Trump’s wall,” said one American security official of the Southcom report. “These guys are doing whatever they want to get in the country.”

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