Journey to Jihad: America’s First Mexican Immigrant Terrorist Suspect
The arrest of Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, a 21-year-old man from Mexico City accused of conspiring to join Al Qaeda, marks the first time in America’s modern history that a Mexican immigrant faces charges of terrorism against the United States, a case whose timing could not be worse or better for immigration reform.
Last Monday, FBI agents swarmed down upon Santana’s apartment in Upland, Calif., a small community east of Los Angeles, and took the self-described Al Qaeda sleeper-agent-in-training into custody as part of a federal sweep that also netted three others terrorist suspects. They are identified as Soheil Omar Kabir, 34, who was born in Afghanistan, became a naturalized U.S. citizen and served in the U.S. Air Force in 2000-2001. Kabir was honorably discharged and lived in Pomona, Calif. Also arrested was Ralph Kenneth DeLeon, 23, born in the Philippines and a legal U.S. resident now living in Ontario, Calif. The fourth suspect is Arifeen David Gojali, 21, born in the U.S. and according to the FBI lived in Riverside, Calif.
Santana’s arrest is particularly significant because of his path into the United States during his alleged journey to jihad, which he concealed for more than two years while living here as a resident awaiting citizenship. Federal investigators now reveal he entered the country legally in 2010 near San Diego clearing customs without difficulty despite his pre-entry violent terrorist training activities in Mexico, which only now are coming to light.