Following Iran’s threats against President Trump and America, many major US cities as well as tourist locations are amping up security measures.
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is among those locations. Currently, any visitor over the age of 18 must show a valid, government-issued ID or they may not enter. This includes attending a funeral service. Children under 16 do not need ID. 16- and 17-year-olds may present either government-issued or school-issued identification.
A Cemetery representative sent out a tweet saying that the increased security was due to “current conditions” and included pedestrians, drivers, and passengers visiting the premises for funerals, tourism, or official business.
Several US cities have also announced bolstered security.
In New York, Governor Cuomo was said to be sending the National Guard to airports. Although the question of why he’s doing that remains to be seen, since even if he encounters a terrorist, he will likely hug him, kick him some cash, and send him on his way.
Boston police have been seen in greater numbers on public transportation and at city attractions and has reminded residents to “remain vigilant.”
In Los Angeles, the Police Department tweeted:
“While there is no credible threat to Los Angeles, the LAPD is monitoring the events developing in Iran. We will continue to communicate with state, local, federal and international law enforcement partners regarding any significant intel that may develop.”
Meanwhile, a top Iranian adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, Hasameddin Ashena, sent a tweet out linking to a September 2019 Forbes report that estimated President Trump’s net worth. The implication of this, of course, is that President Trump’s 35 real estate properties are current targets of Iran, 9 of those in New York.
President Trump had tweeted after Iran put an $80 million bounty on his head:
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters.”
“He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
President Rouhani responded in his own tweet:
“Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655 Never threaten the Iranian nation.”
Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 6, 2020
Never threaten the Iranian nation.
This is in reference to Iran Air flight 655, which was struck down in 1988 by a US Navy missile cruiser over the Persian Gulf after failed communication attempts between the two vehicles. All 290 people on the flight were killed.
Ok girls, you’re both very pretty.
I would like to point out that President Trump was not threatening the Iranian nation. He clearly stated that he was warning them. There is a difference.
Iran implied strikes to instill fear in Americans and stir up the divide that’s already occurring, what with celebs as well as regular people straight up apologizing to the Iranian terrorists.
President Trump implied nothing; he pulled up his big boy pants and told them exactly what would happen if Iran pulled any crap against any Americans, anywhere.
The Iranian advisor, Ashena, sent a tweet out yesterday that said:
“We have ZERO problems with the American people. We even achieved deals with previous US administrations. Our sole problem is Trump. In the event of war, it is he who will bear full responsibility.”
The problem there, Mr. Ashena, is that Trump IS the American people. Oh, I know, I know. Some people with mental issues keep chanting “Not my President,” but they’re deranged and seem to have forgotten in which country they reside.
Barring those basket cases, when you threaten the President of the United States of America, you threatened America itself.
No one wants war (ok, the democrats do), but if war is what it must come to, I have to tell you, I would heed President Trumps warnings if I were you. They aren’t just scary threats from behind a computer screen linked to a magazine article.
As we reported this weekend, while national headlines have focused on the tension between Iran and America, the conversation we need to also be having is about the threat here on the homefront.
The Big Apple is being a host to more terrorists than you’d imagine, with three sleeper agents from Hezbollah, the deadly Iranian-controlled terrorist organization, having been arrested since 2017.
With the apprehension of Alexei Saab last year in the city, it’s telling of what Hezbollah might be planning. Also, despite all the fake news mourning the death of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian major general that Trump eliminated was as thick as thieves with one of America’s greatest terroristic threats.
Back in July of 2019, Alexei Saab had what was thought to be a run of the mill interview with a New York City Police Detective and an FBI agent.
Saab was seemingly well prepared to be interrogated by investigators. After all, what terrorist organization plant wouldn’t be?
Authorities made it seem like they were trying to get Saab to let information slip out during the questioning. The truth was that Saab was trying to see how much the investigators legitimately knew about him and his activities.
But Saab didn’t know that while he was being interviewed at a hotel by police and the FBI, a separate team was already inside his home executing a search warrant. Once the team gathered what they needed, investigators told Saab that it was time to cuff up.
While that was one potential crisis averted, it’s disturbing to know what Saab was doing here while in the United States.
Even after the 9/11 attacks, Hezbollah was still trying to enact terror attacks within the United States. In 2011, they plotted to employ Mexican drug gangs to bomb an Italian restaurant in Washington, just to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. More on that below.
Considering all the terrible acts that Hezbollah has done and continues to try to do, why are people in the mainstream news media crying about Qassem Soleimani? This man, since 1998, has helped develop, finance and direct Hezbollah, along with many other Iranian proxy organizations, to commit acts of terrorism that benefit Iran.
Soleimani managed to use these terrorist groups to attack Iranian adversaries, while managing to leave enough distance between these groups and the Iranian military so that he could claim that it wasn’t an effort on the direct behalf of Iran.
Honestly, the death of Soleimani is something to be celebrated, as it puts an end to two decades of murders against Americans all over. The use of sleeper agents to study major cities to find vulnerabilities is something that commanded the swift action against him.
However, there are still looming threats, as someone was quick to replace Soleimani in the wake of his death.
It seems that the successor will likely employ the same kind of tactics that Soleimani used over the years, using groups like Hezbollah to target the United States and Israel.
The fact of the matter is that we’ll never be able to measure just how much potential devastation was avoided with the apprehension of sleeper agents within New York City, but it’s comforting to know that they were apprehended before they could strike.
Thanks to the amazing work by both the FBI and the NYPD, countless terrorist plots have been thwarted based upon the joint efforts.
Now back to the plot for Washington D.C. in 2011.
In that year, secret talks were held in Mexico between a member of a Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas, and an operative of the Quds Force, Manssor Arbabsiar.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss planning a detonation of C-4 explosives at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. which was a popular choice of Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Adel-al-Jubeir. The meeting was actually part of a DEA operation, which was being recorded.
Several further meetings were held over the next few months in Mexico to discuss planned strikes against the Israeli Embassy in Washington, in addition to the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina. They also discussed new trafficking lanes for the movement of opium between the Middle East and Mexico.
In July of that year, Arbabsiar returned to Mexico and continued meeting with the DEA informant. He reiterated that his leaders in Iran had plans for additional violence in addition to the Saudi ambassador’s assassination.
The informant informed the DEA that Arbabsiar had recruited four men to carry out the plot and would charge $1.5 million. Nearly $50,000 in advance payments were wired to an FBI-controlled bank account, which validated the conspiracy.
In October 2011, Arbabsiar and an Iran-based member of Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, were arrested by federal agents, according to a report in the New York Times.
Both men were charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, among several other charges. Arbabsiar confessed to the charges and cooperated with federal authorities.
The foiled terrorist plot was deemed at that time to be a success for the DEA, FBI and Mexican authorities, while some noted that the United States had been lucky that the person recruited by agents of Quds Force under the direction of Soleimani had been a federal informant.
What the operation did confirm is that state sponsors of terror such as Quds Force had a propensity to work with non-state actors in Mexico such as drug cartels to carry out their dirty work.
So, as we have confirmed, Soleimani was a bad dude, having not only been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops, but who had also plotted to carry out the assassination of the Saudi ambassador on American soil, as well as bombing the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi and Israeli Embassies in Argentina.
At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the murder plot at a news conference in Washington, D.C. and said it was “directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Quds Force.”
He added that “high up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible for this plot.” Thank you, Mr. Holder. Holder of course was the attorney general under Barack Obama.
So as far back as 2011, the American government, including the president at that time, Obama, was aware of Soleimani’s involvement in terrorist activities.
Back to present time. After the strike in Iraq which killed Soleimani, the Democrats acted like Trump had taken out Gandhi.
Sleepy Joe Biden woke up from his typical stupor to tweet the following:
“No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing. He deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents across the region. He supported terror and sowed chaos. None of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region,” Biden said.
Bernie Sanders said in a tweet:
“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars. Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one,” he said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren left the teepee to issue the following tweet:
“Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.
But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.”
Pete Buttigieg, who was mayor of a small town somewhere, had his press secretary issue the following statement, which said in part:
“As a former military intelligence officer on the ground in Afghanistan, I was trained to ask the hard questions before acting. A commander-in-chief must do the same.
Before engaging in military action that could destabilize an entire region, we must take a strategic, deliberate approach that includes consultation with Congress, our allies, and stakeholders in the Middle East,” he said.
We could go on, but you get the point. The contrast between the killing of Soleimani and that of Osama bin Laden and how the “opposition” parties treated the two is striking.
In 2011, without congressional approval (just like this time), President Obama ordered the attack that ultimately ended up with bin Laden’s death. Unlike this time, when Democrats have entirely condemned Trump’s order, in 2011 Republicans were universally supportive of the operation.
Sarah Palin said:
“This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda’s other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world,” she said.
Governor Mike Huckabee said:
“It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless in tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”
Mitt Romney said:
“This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.
Ironically, when bin Laden was killed, Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement:
“The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaeda.
I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment.
It is a testament to the professionalism of our dedicated national security professionals that no American lives were lost in this operation.
As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope that today’s action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores.
Though the death of Osama bin laden is historic, it does not diminish our relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country.”
Let’s contrast her statement after the death of Soleimani, by all accounts just as bad as bin Laden:
“The night’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America—and the world—cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.
The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran.
This action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.”
Oh, we get it Pelosi. The “relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country” only counts when a Democrat is president. Orange man bad, therefore this was bad. Democrats are so “transparent.”
In the meantime, while politicians battle back and forth… the American public is left concerned about the elephant in the room: is America ready for attacks in the homeland?
As a country, we have been blinded by the possibility of a concentrated attack on US soil and many Americans, including our politicians, have forgotten the grim reality of 9/11 and not given our adversaries the respect they deserve.
We have allowed our guard to be lowered with debates of human rights for open borders, disregarding threats on social media and handcuffing the hands of our law enforcement officers to protect and serve.
Art Del Cueto, the Vice President of the National Border Patrol Union and President of the Arizona Border Patrol Union, touched on it this week:
“We need to take securing our nation’s borders very serious. With the huge rise in individuals claiming asylum, we truthfully don’t know enough about those individuals past, much less their true intentions. Drug cartels are the ones that control our southern borders and they do not care about human lives, it’s all about the money,” he said.
Del Cueto rightfully pointed out that the border opens us up to terrorists walking right into America.
“They would have no problem making deals with terrorist organizations to ensure safe passage into our country,” he pointed out.
Furthermore, intelligence has shown that Iran has embedded terrorist sleeper cells within the US and was proven correct with the prosecution and conviction of Hezbollah operative Ali Kourani and Samer el-Debek in New York City.
The new debate is not a matter of if an attack will happen, it’s a matter of when and where.
The act of terrorism is instilling fear within your enemy with the goal of creating mass chaos amongst the people in order to gain leverage and weaken the will to fight back. As the administration ramps up our overseas presence to stand against this terrorist state, we need to do the same here at home.
Targets are chosen through a calculated criteria with the ultimate goal of creating as much physical and emotional destruction as possible to gain the biggest headline.
Conventional target cities like NYC, LA and DC are always on the radar, but with constant threats to those locations, have become harder to execute a successful campaign. Softer targets in the country seem more ideal for a successful operation.
First responders in smaller cities need to be prepared with the reality that they are on the radar with locations such as malls, educational institutions, and event centers being prime targets with the substantial amount of people congregating.
Due diligence of preparation needs to extend from Wall Street to Main Street; for the Iranian terrorist regime, nothing is off the table.
We must take it upon ourselves as Americans to become harder targets. We must throw out the conventional fear of being socially and politically correct with identifying unusual activities and reporting it to the local authorities.
We need to secure our border to reduce the amount of possible terrorists from entering. We need to understand that our government has failed us in protecting our homeland and force our politicians to secure our borders.
We need to stand together to fight this enemy and understand that this war is not about political motives or social-economical righteousness.
This war is deep rooted in cultural religious views between radical Islam and the western world, with the United States being the largest adversary against their movement. Peace is always the goal in every society, but peace cannot be accomplished by turning a blind eye to the threat and hoping it will go away.
Peace comes from facing our adversaries and standing strong together, undivided.
Editor note: Anthony Sabio is a 25 year veteran of public service in the U.S. Marine Corp Special Operations, US Secret Service and the Central Intelligence Agency, is a highly recognized consultant in intelligence and security policy.
After spending a decade as a CIA officer with multiple tours in conflict zones directing and performing counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and counterintelligence operations, he left government service to share his expertise and technical advice to security organizations and media.
Mr. Sabio is an acclaimed guest speaker at multiple security events and performs as a content adviser on world-wide security issues.