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Daily Archives: 10/12/2011

Mexico cooperated with U.S. government to foil alleged Iranian-backed Terrorist plot!

Mexico said Tuesday that it cooperated with the U.S. government to help foil an alleged Iranian-backed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States that supposedly would have required the help of a Mexican drug cartel member.

“From the first moment, Mexico and the United States exchanged information and acted in a coordinated manner,” said Julian Ventura, Mexico’s assistant foreign secretary for North America.

Two men, Iranian American Manssor Arbabsiar, and Gholam Shakuri, an alleged member of Iran’s elite Quds Force, were charged Tuesday in New York federal court with planning to detonate a bomb at a busy Washington restaurant and kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

The plotters planned to pay a Drug Enforcement Administration informant posing as a member of the Zetas cartel $1.5 million to carry out the attack, U.S. officials said.

Ventura told reporters that when Arbabsiar attempted to return to Mexico on Sept. 28, the U.S. government had already issued an arrest warrant for him, and Mexican immigration authorities were on alert. When he arrived, Mexican authorities denied him entry and sent him back to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where he was arrested.

Reading a brief statement to reporters, Ventura did not comment on U.S. claims that Arbabsiar was tripped up by an undercover informant posing as a drug cartel associate.

The DEA and other U.S. security agencies have stepped up considerably their cooperation and intelligence-sharing operations with Mexico in the nearly five years of a brutal drug war, and are more active inside the country than in the past.

“It was possible to neutralize a risk to Mexican national security, re-enforce reciprocal bilateral cooperation with the United States and confirm that there are mechanisms and adequate procedures for anticipating and preventing the presence in our territory of individuals who are harmful to national security and interests,” Ventura said.

He added that Mexico was committed to fighting and preventing “any international individual, group or actor” from committing terrorist-type actions from its territory.

 
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Posted by on 10/12/2011 in Crime Watch, Crime!

 

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Mexico; the most dangerous places in the world for journalists

Mexico is one of the countries where journalists “face the most danger” from criminal organizations, resulting in the murders and disappearances of many members of the media, the president and CEO of the Mexico City daily El Universal, Juan Francisco Ealy, said Monday.

The newspaper executive discussed the situation for journalists in Mexico before the start of the 2nd Ibero-American Scientific Journalism Conference in Aviles, a city in northern Spain.

Mexico has one of the highest crime rates against members of the media, “much higher than in war zones,” Ealy said.

Ealy, who is also chairman of the Committee Against Impunity of the Inter American Press Association, or IAPA, said journalists should be protected while doing their jobs.

“Many journalists no longer want to write about organized crime because of the great danger it poses,” Ealy said.

“If one of them dies while doing their duty or in an attempt on their life,” the responsibility of the rest of the media industry is to find a way to help and continue investigating “what the comrade was doing,” the newspaper executive said.

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists in the past few years, and the most dangerous country for members of the media in Latin America, non-governmental organizations say.

Hundreds of journalists and media industry workers took to the streets of Mexico City on Sept. 11 to demand that officials clear up the recent killings of two female reporters and punish those responsible for attacks on journalists.

Journalists have increasingly been targeted in recent years by drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, especially in northern Mexico.

Media members must also contend with long-running abuse at the hands of federal, state and local officials.

Since 2000, more than 70 journalists have been murdered and 13 others have gone missing in Mexico, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, said.

 
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Posted by on 10/12/2011 in Crime Watch, Crime!

 

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Looking to carry out an assassination or set off a bomb on US soil?

Mexico and Iran Terrorism

Mexico and Iran Terrorism

Looking to carry out an assassination or set off a bomb on US soil? Look no farther than Mexico, where murderous drug traffickers abound, ready and willing to take money for brazen acts of violence.

That may be the takeaway for those in the US increasingly wary of the security threat posed by its southern neighbor, after news that the agents tied to Iran sought the help of a Mexican drug trafficking group to carry out a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US.

Already, presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry (R) of Texas had said he would consider sending troops to Mexico to contain drug violence.

But are Mexican cartels really linking up with terrorists?

Mexicans, fiercely opposed to any type of US military intervention despite its growing violence, say the connection between terrorism and drug traffickers is already being overblown, and this will just add to the fodder.

“For a long time the US security apparatus … has been trying to see if there is any connection between organized crime in Mexico and terrorist organizations,” says Alejandro Schtulmann, head of research at the Emerging Markets Political Risk Analysis consulting firm in Mexico City. “Mexican criminal groups have no interest in upsetting the US.”

Plot foiled

US officials say the two agents contacted the drug trafficker in northern Mexico, offering $1.5 million for the assassination. But that trafficker turned out to be an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency, foiling a plot that FBI director Robert Mueller said today could have cost many lives.

One of the agents reportedly met twice with the trafficker during the summer in the violence-ridden northern city of Reynosa. The accused plotter was unaware that he was actually dealing with an informant.

Little information is known about the informant. ABC News reports that he was a member, or posing as a member, of the Zetas cartel.

Those who study the dynamics of drug trafficking in Mexico say that participating in any terrorist action is highly out of character for Mexican criminals, whose interests are not in terrorizing the US but increasing their profits in any way possible – even if that means that they terrorize fellow Mexicans to do so.

 “The major cartels generally refrain from antagonizing the US because they do not want US boots on the ground,” says George Grayson, author of “Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?”

The threat of a terrorist crossing the US- Mexican border has been debated since 9/11. “Mexico is already a first tier country for the US from a national security standpoint,” says Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, senior associate and Mexico expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “If anything [this news] is only going to reinforce how important Mexico is for the US.”

In the context of the spiraling violence in Mexico, that relationship between both nations has grown stronger. But Mexican President Felipe Calderón has to balance national sentiment that the US not intervene in domestic affairs with Mexico’s real need for cooperation, and aid, from the US.

US debates how to handle Mexico violence

As the US has debated whether to label the violence in Mexico, which has taken over 40,000 lives, an insurgency or terrorism, Mexico has balked. Many see it as a justification to build a stronger, longer, and higher border fence or meddle in its affairs at home.

This news could raise the decibel on that debate. But Mr. Schtulmann says that drug traffickers are not colluding with terrorists. This case is that of a group hiring a hitman, and the Zetas are the perfect hitmen: they are former elite special forces and they have gained international notoriety for their willingness to carry out the most vicious attacks.

“They are mercenaries,” he says. “You can hire mercenaries here in Mexico or Brazil. I think the link with drug trafficking is overstated.”

And in fact, although little information is known about the informant – whether he was a drug trafficker who turned into an informant or an agent posing as a drug trafficker – Mr. Peschard-Sverdrup says it could underline how unwilling drug traffickers are to become involved in cases of terrorism because, in the end, the informant blew the whistle.

“It goes to the point that ultimately they are not willing to do anything that could disrupt their overarching business interest,” he says.

 
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Posted by on 10/12/2011 in Crime Watch, Crime!

 

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