DHS secretary tours Israel-Egypt border for Mexico wall inspiration — report

Kirstjen Nielsen tells Jerusalem security conference ‘Islamist militants are preeminent terror threat to our lives’

US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in Jerusalem, June 11, 2018 (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)
US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in Jerusalem, June 11, 2018 (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured Israel’s border barrier with Egypt Tuesday and received a briefing on Israeli border technology to take away lessons for the US-Mexico border, Israel Radio reported.

Nielsen later confirmed the tour to an Israeli security conference in Jerusalem, saying: “Border security is national security. Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone, and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they are doing to keep their territory safe.”

US President Donald Trump has reportedly cited Israel’s security barrier on the Egyptian border, and its success in blocking illegal immigration, as inspiration for his calls to build a wall on the Mexico border.

Speaking Tuesday at at the first International Homeland Security Forum, an initiative launched by Nielsen’s Israeli counterpart, Gilad Erdan, the secretary said Islamist militants were the “preeminent threat” to the West.

Israel’s border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

“From Ottawa to Berlin, our communities are now on the frontlines,” Nielsen said. “All countries represented here have experienced this evil in one form or another, whether your nationals have been victims or your homelands have been hit directly.”

The struggle “requires moral clarity,” Nielsen said.

“So all of us in this room must remember we are engaged in a generational struggle against Islamist militants, the preeminent terror threat to our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life,” she told the forum, which according to Israeli media reports attracted ministerial level participation from 17 countries.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen with Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at the US embassy in Jerusalem, June 11, 2018 (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)

Nielsen’s blunt language reflected the preferences of Trump and is emblematic of the shift in rhetoric from the Obama administration, which avoided attaching “Islamic” to “terrorism,” in part because of concerns that it would alienate Muslim moderates.

Nielsen praised Israel for closely cooperating with the United States in combating terrorism.

“Following the 9/11 attacks — the deadliest terror assault in modern world history — you were right there by our side,” she said. “We knew we could not win the coming fight alone. And we turned to you for guidance because the State of Israel has withstood decades of violence at the hands of fanatics — and has proudly defended freedom against relentless terrorist enemies.”

Nielsen reportedly is under constant fire from Trump for not sufficiently reducing the entry of undocumented migrants into the United States.

Nielsen and Erdan met Monday at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, the first ministerial meeting at the embassy since it was opened last month following its controversial transfer from Tel Aviv.

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