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Middle East terror group cited as reason to put armed volunteer militia on Arizona-Mexico border

Sen. Sylvia Allen (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

A senator who wants to create an armed volunteer force that can stop crimes along the Arizona-Mexico border repeated claims Tuesday that terrorist organizations based in the Middle East have formed alliances with drug cartels to the south.

“We are being invaded by criminals who have formed alliances with mid-eastern terrorists who use violence in the most evil of ways to intimidate, control and protect their drug-human smuggling multi-billion dollar business,” said Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake.

In an earlier committee hearing, Allen specifically mentioned Hezbollah. She also referred to reports that the group is training Mexican drug cartels.

Allen isn’t the only one who is making claims about the presence of Hezbollah in Latin America.

But the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, which looked into the claim, said while there’s some evidence that the group’s sympathizers and fundraisers are working in the tri-border area between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and perhaps it even has recruiters and trainers in Venezuela, there’s little evidence that the Hezbollah is “working” in Mexico.

PolitiFact also said there’s even less public support for the idea that the group’s presence poses a “very significant threat” to the U.S, adding the U.S. State Department says there are no known operational cells of al-Qaida or Hezbollah in the hemisphere.

To help combat any threat from the south, Allen is proposing to establish an “Arizona Special Missions Unit” that can respond to disasters but also be readily deployed to help secure the southern border, and aid local law enforcement in combating international crime.

The unit, which would get $1.4 million each year, would be under the control of the governor. It will be separate from the Arizona National Guard.

As envisioned, the unit would be authorized to pursue criminals, detain and arrest and also seize property.

The proposal narrowly passed, 7-6, after a spirited debate in the Appropriations Committee this afternoon.

All the Democrats on the committee, as well as two Republicans, balked at the measure.

The bill, SB1083, was also tweaked during the hearing.

The original version created a new “Arizona State Guard.”

The name change — from Arizona State Guard to Arizona Special Missions Unit — doesn’t alter the group’s mission.

But the amended bill is more stringent about recruitment.

Like the previous measure, recruits must be citizens or legal residents who have declared their intention to become citizens.

Also, individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from any military force in the U.S. are barred.

But there are additional requirements.

Volunteers must also submit fingerprints for a state and federal criminal records check.

They’re also subject to psychological screening and polygraph testing to ensure they’re fit for the job.

The debate during the hearing focused on the group’s operational capability, logistics, and weapons training.

Allen, the bill’s sponsor, expressed assurances that the new force won’t be sent out unless it’s ready.

But critics, including Sen. Paula Aboud, pressed the issue of state liability for the volunteers’ conduct.

Others, like Sen. Rich Crandall, a Republican from Mesa, looked at the logistics and remained skeptical about how it would work.

“If you were to truly offer live-fire weapons training, you would burn through the $1.4 million in no time at all and have no budget for anything else,” Crandall said.

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10 comments

  1. Has Ms Allen not heard that we already have an all volunteer group of people to deal with terrorists and any other threat that’s external to the United States?

    If not, could someone explain the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines to her?

    And, let her know that they’re trained as well.

  2. Securing our borders from terrorism is not the responsibility of the state of Arizona, but falls squarely on the federal government. Arizona is a state and while it has responsibility for the safety of its citizens, this type of dialogue and actions are being taken without known facts or expertise on international relations. We need jobs, health, safety for our children, economic development and effective relationships with our neighbors to help solve mutual problems. Legislators should not be in the business of demonizing people or scaring our communities. The federal government is responsible for foregn policy. Let them do their job and you do yours. Run for a U.S. legislative position, then maybe you can engage in this type of dialogue.

  3. Good to see the kookocracy making fools of themselves yet again. Sylvia “the Grand Canyon is only 6000 years old” Allen is a major embarrassment to the state and should be removed from office before she further damages our image (or what’s left of it anyway). Look up “stupidity” in Webster’s and there is a photo of Sylvia.

  4. Sen. Allen is well intentioned and many Arizonans want a secure border. Border work is best left to law enforcement professionals and taking funds from another law enforcement fund to capitalize this new “state guard” just does not make fiscal sense.

    I have some position to speak – I have served, in uniform, or the border during my Navy career as an intelligence professional.

    Sen. Crandall is also correct – getting members of this unit weapons qualified will cost a lot of money, as will the background checks. To compare to the security clearance cost for the military, it is more than $6000 per service member to get a basic clearance. Also, the bill needs to do more than bar just dishonorable discharged military members – there are other categories, such as “under less than honorable” or “general” or “dismissed for the good of the service” printed on military discharge papers.

    Then there is the issue of people being physically fit. Members of the Arizona National Guard and the Federal military reserve forces have bi-annual physical agility tests and must achieve passing scores to stay in uniform. It is about safety of the military member, both self and comrades, that there are standards.

    I’d rather see these monies re-directed to the border sheriffs so they could expand their reserve and volunteer groups to extend law enforcement along the border rather than create another group that ultimately becomes another government entity that soaks up dollars that could have been better used.

  5. In my humble opinion, nothing good will come having an \armed\ state militia as it is currently proposed. I would generally support a State Militia, so long as it was controlled by the The Adjutant General under the Governor’s authority, there was unity of effort, unity of command, and it was fiscally responsible. I believe a State Militia could add great value to the State in the area of supporting the National Guard (and other State agencies) with supporting the civil authorities. We have a wealth of talent and expertise in Arizona to include many military retirees, prior-service individuals, and other relevant backgrounds and skill-sets.

    My concern is that there has not been enough thought put into an \armed’ state militia by State Sen. Allen and that this situation is ripe for vigilante justice abuses. One does not have to look too far back into history to see bad examples of \armed\ groups with good intentions gone horribly wrong (e.g. San Franciso Committee of Vigilance, Socorro Vigilantes, the 1917 Bisbee Deportation, etc.) It alarms me that she continues with her bullish-agenda despite opposition from some well-respected critics and legitimate concerns.

  6. Some questions regarding the AZ guard. 1) If the federal government is doing such a good job of protecting our border, why did they post signs warning us to stay out of the area because of smugling and drug runnig activity? 2) When the national guard (or a portion therof) is federalized and deployed, how do we fill the void? 3) Why is AZ the only border state without a state guard?

  7. I agree that it isn’t the states responsibility to take care of this issue. Although it does sound dangerous, no one can make assumptions. I say we just install Wow, things are getting pretty heated. People need to calm down and let the government settle itself. Although this post was very interesting. There were many ” alarms ” that came up with the information for me. Which is what made it so interesting to read and want to understand. Can anyone tell me a good place to read more about this? around the border and call it good until we can find something that actually will keep them out or that we can know for sure if they are even doing anything. I do find this information interesting though. Can anyone tell me where I can find a more current update?

  8. I agree that it isn’t the states responsibility to take care of this issue. Although it does sound dangerous, no one can make assumptions. I say we just install alarms around the border and call it good until we can find something that actually will keep them out or that we can know for sure if they are even doing anything. I do find this information interesting though. Can anyone tell me where I can find a more current update?

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