Nearly a half-decade ago, writing from London, I identified a chilling trend in home-grown terror: the remarkable prevalence of redheads among white British converts to radical Islam.
Over three quarters of new converts to radical Islam have red hair in the UK; I call them the “ginger jihadis.” Today, I’m introducing DANGEROUS readers to a new trend in extremism: the rise of the taco terrorist.
The high number of Latino converts to Islam is well established. But less well understood is a new and disturbing trend in radical Islamic terrorism in the United States. Aside from a long feature in Front Page magazine, there have been no serious attempts to catalogue ISIS recruits with Latino and Hispanic backgrounds, less still to understand why so many Latinos, especially in Florida, are being drawn into a loathing of the west – and white people – that can turn into terrorist attacks against malls, restaurants and other symbols of freedom, democracy and capitalism.
The taco terrorist trend begins with Jose Padilla, a man arrested in 2002, just months after 9/11, for plotting an attack in Florida with a radiological bomb. Since then, the phenomenon has been picking up steam. Yet it remains completely unaddressed by the media how immigration, both legal and illegal, from central and south America is not just making space for home-grown terror but might even be fueling it. At DANGEROUS, we will be reporting on these stories regularly as they appear.
The most recent case is Vicente Adolfo Solano, a Honduran living in south Florida, who posted videos to the internet lashing out at President Trump, resentful over his “temporary immigration status” before plotting to detonate a bomb at Dolphin Mall, barely a mile from THE MILO SHOW studio.
Hondurans living in the US were given automatic refugee status after Hurricane Mitch in 1999 for an entire generation – eighteen years. This status expired in January 2018, and Solano, a beneficiary of the United States’ generosity, wanted to stay. In his videos, he lambasts Trump for the President’s unwillingness to extend this generational largesse.
Standing in front of an ISIS flag, Solano declared: “The racist president who is a supremacist — white, who does not like Blacks, does not like the Chinese, he does not like the Muslims, he doesn’t like the Hispanics … In the name of Allah and our leader, Abu, we are going to defeat you……(Americans) are invaders of this country who came to this country to kill all of the Indians. They abolished them, and now they’re telling us to get out of here. They are the ones who have to leave.”
We don’t need to “rush to judgment” in figuring out this man’s motives. A new and explicit hatred of whiteness is what unites campus radicals with the taco terrorists. In Solano’s analysis, you can hear the cries of the social-justice warrior, railing against cis-het white patriarchal colonial oppression and naming a variety of unrelated victims of “white supremacy.” This is a new, intersectional, highly confused form of justification for terrorist violence, informed by campus politics and the political narratives of CNN and the Washington Post, using historic violence against indigenous peoples as grounds for attacks on innocent Americans.
Solano should have been deported long ago, because he has a criminal record. But he evaded deportation and then planned a terrorist attack because he had been educated to associate free western capitalist society with “white supremacy,” rather than recognizing the generosity of a country that had allowed him to stay within its borders for twenty years after a natural disaster within his own borders.
He was caught with an inert pressure cooker bomb at Dolphin Mall. His goal, he said, had been to set the bomb off in the crowded food court and to kill as many Americans as he could. And he planned the attack for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas shopping season.
“I am going to plant a bomb like in Boston, in the name of Allah,” Solano confessed. “Like in Boston, like Suarez wanted to do in the Keys, that’s how they’re going to get it, and even worse.”
The “Suarez” he’s referring to is another of our taco terrorists: Harlem Suarez, a would-be bomber who inspired Solano. Suarez, who was also caught and sentenced to life in prison, had planned to detonate explosives on the beach in Key West. As with Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter who murdered 49 gay men and injured many more in Orlando, Suarez’s plan would have disproportionately harmed women and homosexuals.
“[We should] kill our enemies and convert to Islam now in USA,” Suarez had declared. “We will destroy America and divide it in two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House.”
As Front Page magazine notes, Solano and Suarez aren’t aberrations. James Gonzalo Medina recently pleaded guilty to a bomb plot aimed at destroying the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. Aventura, in northern Miami, hosts one of the city’s most upmarket malls. Medina’s lawyers claimed he had a “brain cyst,” but, as Front Page put it, it wasn’t mental illness that drove Medina to change his name to James Muhammed.
“I feel that I’m doing it for a good cause for Allah,” Medina explained in one of his videos. “I am a Muslim and I don’t like what’s going on in this world. I’m going to handle business here in America. Aventura, watch your back. ISIS is in the house … Next thing you know it will be in California, Washington, and the brothers are saying you know, it’s our time now. We are going to defeat you.”
If the Left gets its way, Medina and his taco terrorist buddies may indeed get their way. And this may be a product of broader religious and cultural trends. As long ago as 2013 – which means the media had been aware of it for some time before that, but hadn’t reported on it yet – WLRN in Miami noted that, “Hispanics are now the nation’s largest minority – so is the number of Latino Muslims. And it’s not just a result of so-called “Arab Latin Americans” emigrating to the United States.
“Latinos are one of the fastest-growing segments of the Muslim community,” reported WLRN. “About six percent of U.S. Muslims are now Latino – and as many as a fifth of new converts to Islam nationwide are Latino. The American Muslim Association of North America, based in North Miami, says heavily Hispanic South Florida in particular is home to a rising number of Latino Muslims.”
It is not a coincidence or quirk of history that the American Muslim Association of North America is based in Miami, nor that unindicted co-conspirator organization CAIR has a huge and thriving Florida office. But why might Latinos feel an affinity to Islam in the first place? Part of the reason may be historical, and linguistic.
Hispanics abandoning Catholicism and becoming radicalized against American values by the American media and Islamic organizations like CAIR are being encouraged to discover cultural ties to Islam and the Arab world in the language they speak, Spanish. Over 4,000 words in Spanish have Arab roots, thanks to the so-called golden era of Islam in Andalucia in southern Spain during the Middle Ages, whose heritage includes the Moorish architecture in Grenada, Seville and Cordoba and many modern Spanish words.
Wilfredo Ruiz, a Puerto Rican-born Muslim who converted a decade ago and is now a lawyer for CAIR in Florida, is fond of pointing out cultural connections between Spanish-speaking people and the Arab world to journalists. Before his conversion, Ruiz was a Navy chaplain. He says, “It’s like rediscovering your past. That area of our past has been hidden from us.”
And it’s here that we slip into self-flattery and dodgy historical and religious analogy. Ruiz says many Latinos find a welcoming berth in Islam because both cultures “value the extended family and traditions like offering hospitality to strangers.” As for Islam’s systematic oppression of women? No big deal, says Liliana Parodi, a Peruvia-American surgical technician quoted by the local Miami press a few years ago claiming Catholicism and macho Hispanic culture are no different.
Most Latinos who convert to Islam will not become ISIS-supporting terrorists. But where there are large Muslim populations, there are terrorists, and Florida boasts 120 mosques and counting, including the mosque Omar Mateen attended in northern Orlando, which hosted a speaker who had previously told his audience that the “compassionate” answer to homosexuality in America was to kill all gays.
When it’s organizations like CAIR doing the converting, you have to wonder how susceptible these new Muslims are to the straight line the modern Left draws from the alleged persecution of Palestinians to supposedly “marginalized” minority groups in the U.S. opposed to the Trump presidency.
Drug cartels and other organized gang activities are a further dimension to the taco terrorist threat. There is a growing business relationship between Hispanic traffickers and Islamic terrorists, and ISIS plots are cropping up in Latin America. The Islamic State is even said to have training camps in Mexico.
Teaching Hispanics to identify themselves with an absurd Islamic persecution narrative only reinforces their skepticism about the west – especially if they’re in the United States illegally and see law enforcement as the apparatus of an enemy state with corrupt, hypocritical or decadent values. (Jail conversions to Islam, which affect the more ideologically and emotionally vulnerable violent criminals, could be another factor in Florida’s new Islamic problem.)
The wall-to-wall saturation of anti-western messaging pouring out of American schools, colleges, media outlets and the entertainment industries and a constant stream of biased reporting, mischaracterization, quips and attitudes from public figures infects the minds of people who, rightly or wrongly, consider their place in western society to be illegitimate or unstable, and who, for whatever deranged reason, hate the value system that has been so generous to them.
The clearest example is the rise of taco terrorists, a new generation of Hispanics in America who believe that America’s values are flawed and its behavior unjust, and who can now, thanks to the advocacy efforts of groups like CAIR in south Florida, identify their own quotidian struggles with conspiracy theories and fake history about historical oppression at the hands of white western imperialists.
Racial division has long been a weapon in the Muslim Brotherhood conversion arsenal, and so are the politics of grievance and pseudohistory: in 2015, Turkish president Erdogan visited Cuba to announce the construction of a “mega mosque.” He told Muslim leaders from Latin America that Muslims had reached America before Columbus and therefore Cuba rightly belonged to Islam. The parallels with “Afrocentric history” and confected racial grievance as taught by Black Lives Matter are obvious.
The only thing that distinguishes taco terrorists from their Middle Eastern counterparts is – at least so far – their ineptitude. Few of them have successfully executed their murderous plans. But rising Islamic fundamentalism in Florida led a 17-year-old teen to slit the throat of a 13-year-old friend this month, the product of reading the Koran and watching extremist videos online.
More taco terrorists are sure to follow, but if the mollycoddling and pandering of the Broward County sheriff’s office to organizations like CAIR is any indication of Floridian law enforcement’s preparedness, there will be a lot of dead bodies in Miami’s malls before the problem is tackled head-on.
MILO is an award-winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author and host of THE MILO SHOW.
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Milo Yiannopoulos is an award-winning investigative reporter and the New York Times-bestselling author of DANGEROUS.