(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Tuesday the U.S. has made it increasingly difficult for Hezbollah terrorists and their supporters to cross the U.S.-Mexico border--but there is still more work to do to make the border secure.
However, Lieberman also warned that we don't want to lose American freedom by trying to keep terrorist from crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S.
“The security’s better on the U.S.-Mexican border than it has been before in terms of terrorists’ capacity to break through our borders in the south, but we still have more work to do. We have such a big border that we constantly have to get better,” Lieberman told CNSNews.com at a Capitol Hill press conference.
“I don’t know that we’re ever going to reach the point where we’re going to say ‘OK, we have enough defenses on our border’ because it’s so big and of course our country is a free country and we don’t want to lose that freedom in trying to keep the terrorists out,” he said.
Hezbollah is a terrorist organization based in Lebanon that was formed in 1982 with direct sponsorship from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and continues to receive material support from Iran.
In 2008, Mexican national and former Tijuana restaurant owner Samil Boughader Mucharrafille was sentenced to 60 years in prison in Mexico for smuggling 200 people across the U.S.-Mexico border, some of whom were reportedly Hezbollah supporters.
In 2005, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani was convicted for sending material support to Hezbollah from Dearborn, Mich., after bribing an immigration official to obtain a visa and enter the U.S. from Mexico in 2001.
There also have been several reports indicating a strategic alliance between Hezbollah and Mexican drug cartels.
According to investigative journalist Doug Farah, who testified on July 7, 2011 before the House subcommittee on counter-terrorism and intelligence, there are narco-tunnels used for smuggling people and resources that resemble tunnels used by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Lieberman, along with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), announced a Senate resolution Tuesday that urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
CNSNews.com subsequently asked Lieberman about Hezbollah’s possible penetration of the U.S. border: “Senator, Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton said recently that Iran is ‘exporting terrorism’ in a global fashion ‘from Mexico to Thailand.’ And we know of instances when Hezbollah members have come across the U.S.-Mexico border. There was [Mahmoud] Youseff Kourani who was convicted in 2005, the brother of a Hezbollah commander. Do you believe the U.S.-Mexico border is secure enough?”
Lieberman responded: “Well, first off, your question makes a point that I don’t think is widely enough appreciated in our country, that in the last year or two, the Iranian regime -- particularly through this Quds force that I’ve mentioned—is operating much more globally than they did before.”
He continued, “I will say this, and I know something about this because of my role as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, the Department of Homeland Security and others have been really beefing up security on the Mexican border and illegal immigration has gone way down.”
“But all that security has also made it harder for Hezbollah to break through our borders and it’s an argument for why we have to not just focus on so-called illegal immigration but really on terrorists trying to break through our southern border,” he said. “It’s getting harder to do that because we have more personnel down there and much more sophisticated electronic equipment that the US government has set up”
CNSNews.com followed up: “So would you say it’s secure enough or is there still work to do?”
“The security’s better on the U.S.-Mexican border than it has been before in terms of terrorists’ capacity to break through our borders in the south but we still have more work to do. We have such a big border that we constantly have to get better,” he said.
“I don’t know that we’re ever going to reach the point where we’re going to say, ‘OK, we have enough defenses on our border’ because it’s so big and of course our country is a free country and we don’t want to lose that freedom in trying to keep the terrorists out.”