Former U.S. Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo spoke with The Rundown News after comments made by President Donald J. Trump threatening to bomb Iranian cultural sites, and their similarities to comments that he made on the campaign trail in 2007.
In a phone interview, Tancredo also discussed the history of alliances between Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican cartels, the time Pakistani-born terrorists were dispatched to kill him, and — well — nuking Mecca.
Tancredo has always been known as an immigration hardliner. In 2003, then a Republican Congressman from Colorado, he introduced the Mass Immigration Reduction Act of 2003, colloquially known as a call for an immigration moratorium. Calls for such immigration policies have been renewed by several candidates for federal office in the 2020 election cycle.
“We still have to worry about Middle Eastern terrorists crossing into the United States illegally,” Tancredo told The Rundown News.
He referenced the now-famous Qasem Soleimani, who led the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani was killed in an airstrike ordered by President Trump last week.
In 2011, Soleimani’s terror group targeted then-U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir for assassination in Washington, D.C. Tancredo said the Iranian terrorist attempted to contract members of the Los Zetas Cartel to kill al-Jubeir.
“[The terrorist group] paid to have these people smuggled in,” Tancredo told The Rundown News. “They pay big money to do this. They have done this on more than one occasion.”
From Stars and Stripes:
And then, the powerful Iranian military man who supposedly oversaw the circuitous scheme: Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force and the impresario of the republic’s clandestine operations around the world.
The man at the center of the story was an Iranian American used-car salesman and Texas resident, Manssor Arbabsiar, who had a cousin high up in the Quds Force, according to court records and contemporaneous Post coverage.
A disorganized businessman whose various ventures flopped, Arbabsiar was an unlikely candidate to partake in an international, diplomatically explosive assault. But he had key connections – namely, his cousin, the senior Quds Force official Abdul Reza Shahlai, who recruited Arbabsiar and asked him to find some accomplices who could carry out the high-profile hit.
The piece continues:
Because he lived in Corpus Christi, near the southern border, and had frequent business in Mexico, Arbabsiar thought he knew someone who would be perfect.
In May 2011, Arbabsiar approached a man he believed to be a member of a drug trafficking cartel and asked him if he was good with explosives, according to court filings. Arbabsiar wanted to know, he explained, because he was interested in bombing the Saudi Arabian embassy.
After planning and coordinating the attack, Arbabsiar was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sept. 29, 2011. His travel itinerary planned to take him from Mexico to Iran. One of the cartel members with whom Arbabsiar had planned the attack turned out to be an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The attack was foiled by federal law enforcement.
Tancredo told The Rundown News that such alliances between terrorist organizations and cartels are a bigger threat to national security than any Middle Eastern nation state. In fact, he said, Iran prefers to sponsor terrorist organizations rather than commit acts of war on its own, thus giving itself plausible deniability as a nation.
“We desperately need some apparatus to secure the border,” Tancredo said, “and we need to monitor threats that are already in the country.”
“When I was running for president, I was asked by a radio station, ‘What would you do in the case of an Islamic nuclear strike?'” Tancredo told The Rundown News.
He responded at first with the obvious: there’s nothing you can do after you’ve been nuked except survey the damage, bury the dead, and cordon off the affected area for eons. So, he said, any action taken to avoid such a disaster must be preventative, not reactive.
To understand what deterrent would truly work to prevent such an attack, Tancredo was reminded of the old adage “know thy enemy,” and Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” the book from whence the adage came.
“In order to win a conflict you must know your enemy,” Tancredo told The Rundown News. “In this case, we know what motivates Islamic extremists: religious identity.”
And so Tancredo told the radio show host in 2007 that nuking Mecca and Medina would be the only way to deter or respond to an Islamic nuclear strike.
“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” he said at the time.
The comments lit the Islamic world on fire, literally. Tancredo was burned in effigy in Pakistan alongside former presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.
Shortly thereafter, he would receive a phone call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force telling him that two teams of terrorists had been dispatched from Pakistan to kill him.
“What do you expect me to do about these two teams?” he asked the FBI.
“Just be aware of your surroundings,” they said.
One of the teams, Tancredo said, was later captured in New Jersey.
He was protested from Pakistan to Bangladesh, where a large group gathered on a Saturday morning to voice their displeasure with his remarks. At the time, he asked the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh about the protests. According to Tancredo, the Ambassador downplayed protests, remarking that as a course of habit, the Bangladeshi people protested something every Saturday morning.
Trump threatens to bomb cultural sites
Fast forward to the present day.
President Trump, during a recent skirmish with Iran, suggested bombing religious and cultural sites, reminiscent of Tancredo’s 2007 remarks, and the impetus for our conversation.
“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 protestors,” Trump said on Twitter.
“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,” he continued.
Tancredo praised President Trump for his decisive rhetoric (while the mainstream media likened the 45th President to ISIS) noting that foreign adversaries must believe that a leader is actually willing to take the action that he says he will take in order to be effective. President Trump has succeeded in that manner, according to Tancredo.
“They do believe he would do something like that,” he said. “What did you see last night? They stood down, essentially.”
He was referring to a missile launch earlier this week, purportedly aimed at U.S. troops in Iraq, which did no damage to U.S. allies, though some have speculated that the attack brought down a Ukrainian passenger airliner. The impotent launch was Iran’s retaliation for killing one of its top generals.
Tancredo put a bow on our conversation, reiterating why Iran can only use terrorist organization proxies — and likely ones that would cross at our open southern border — to attack the United States.
“They are absolutely so susceptible to military action that would cripple them forever,” he said.
Editor’s note: The author of this piece ran for Congress on an immigration moratorium platform.
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