Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Arizona Border Recon Upholds Vigilante Tradition

credit: J. Milano
America's west has a long history of vigilante action. It was once a lawless frontier and peaceful citizens  needed substitute for the lack of official law enforcement. Hardly the case nowadays, but Arizona's Border Recon, an armed
group of ex-servicemen and law enforcers is keeping the tradition alive. These men perceive a need to patrol the desert wastes along the Mexican border that is often marked by nothing more than a waist-high metal fence backed with barbed wire--hardly enough to keep out a determined jihadist bent on bringing terrorism to US soil once again.

The group of about 200 men was started by Tim "Nailer" Foley, who "got off the couch" to do something about what he sees as a serious problem-- an insecure southern border. Foley lives about 400 yards from the border.  He dismisses the usual criticisms of being a "gun-nut" and a nativist extremist, by referring to the recent terror attacks in Paris. His group patrols a six to eight mile perimeter 24/7 armed and equipped with night vision equipment. Foley claims they have video of non-Mexicans crossing illegally into the US.  He identifies them as "Pakistanis and Afghanis". Of course the official Border Patrol does not endorse the private action of armed civilians, and "strongly encourages" private citizens to contact official law enforcement agencies. Official records list three Afghans and twenty-six Pakistanis attempting to cross illegal in the period FY2013-2015 (July). Recently the FBI confirmed that five men from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan were captured trying to cross the border, but found no derogatory information on their records. So the amateurs consider themselves to be rendering more service to their country in a time of war. Foley points out that people who want to participate in their patrols must pass a background check and abide by strict rules of engagement. Foley was checked out by FBI when someone tipped the bureau in 2011 that Foley had been accused of leaving pie bombs on heavily trafficked trails. The sheriff of Santa Cruz County told Al Jazeera America Foley is a troublemaker and too gung-ho. His organization attracts a "lot of crackpots" according to that sheriff, and Foley is, "going to get us into a lot of trouble".

Foley, who lost his comfortable life as a construction foreman earning $40/hr in Phoenix after the crash, formed Arizona Border Recon in 2011 as a response to corruption. Since then the group has run five missions a year in which it has detained hundreds of people at the border. They concentrate on trails under less official surveillance, often used by drug mules. When asked if he would ever return to a more routine life in Phoenix, he replied "I've taken the red pill" in a reference to the popular science fiction flim, "The Matrix". "You know why they call it the American Dream, Foley asked his interviewer, "Because you have got to be asleep to believe it."