The worst terrorism threat may be yet to come.

When Iran was accused of trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel hit-man to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. – and to do it in Washington, the seeds began to take root.

Muslims make much of the prohibition against the use of alcohol or drugs, yet the Quran makes allowance for doing things that would never be allowed, if the goal is to deceive the infidel and to kill the infidel.  This is how the Taliban get around the sin of selling opium to the cartels and organized criminal enterprises of the world.  It is how jihadists do a lot of things that the holy book frowns on.  The point is – we are a short step away from a true horror.

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Ask yourself what would happen if a drug cartel, or a nation state government inimical to the United States, entered into a joint enterprise of terror with a radical Islamic cell.  The answer is apparent.

What al Qaida and its violent ilk lack, the cartels have in abundance.  Logistics.  Al Qaida, al Shabbab and others recruit radicals in America by tapping mosques for disaffected young men who are attracted by the violence, their hatred for their own country or maybe the 76 virgins.  Then, these acolytes are sent to places like Yemen or Pakistan for training – and Homeland Security has a chance to enter the equation.

Drug cartels routinely move drugs and people around the nation.  They are heavily armed, have ample explosives at their disposal and the logistical challenge of beating U.S. security is something they do with distressing success every day.  They build tunnels under the Mexican border.  More than 70 tunnels discovered in the last few years. We cannot possibly know how many people, including terrorists have moved through those tunnels.  We cannot know how many tons of drugs and weapons make the same crossing.  The cartels also have airplanes and boats and mules.

In India, two hotels in Mumbai were attacked and torched and people were killed by Islamic terrorists with rifles.  A drug cartel could arm trained Islamic radicals as simply as they can arm any smuggler who also walked through a tunnel.  Just hand them the rifles.

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The point is undeniable.  If radical Islamics ever hook up with murderous Mexican and other drug cartels in a coordinated fashion, America will have trouble with a capital T.

Would radical Islamists do such a thing?  That’s purely rhetorical.

This is the stuff that keep agents of the FBI, NSA, HSA and the rest of the alphabet panoply awake at night.

This awful possibility is the reason I wrote A Hole In The Apple, as a warning about a specter some think borders on likelihood. It is fiction but some noted experts on national security and terrorism have declared it much more than that.

Can American government leaders and law enforcers and diplomats keep such a disaster scenario from happening?  It is a wide open question.

Harley Carnes is a Murrow award winning CBS News Radio Network anchor, long time pilot, instructor, and recognized aviation expert.  His new novel, A Hole In The Apple can be ordered online as an e-book or in print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at www.harleycarnes.com.