Photo: AP Images
The just announced Iranian-sponsored plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States spotlights the growing collaboration between terrorist groups and Mexican drug cartels.According to a Department of Justice press release, Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was approached by his cousin, a “big general” in the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, early in the spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap or murder the ambassador in the United States.
On a number of occasions, Arbaisiar allegedly met with a DEA confidential informant in Mexico posing as an “associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel,” about carrying out the attack.
This is not the first time terrorist groups and cartels have worked together — earlier this year it was reported that Hezbollah has sought to set up an operating base inside of Mexico with the protection of the cartels, in exchange for bomb-making and other expertise useful in that country’s ongoing drug war.
According to the release, Arbaisiar allegedly wired a $100,000 down-payment on a $1.5 million fee to kill the ambassador, potentially by bombing a restaurant frequented by him
Arbaisiar was lured to Mexico to provide collateral on the fee, before being refused entry to the country. On his return to the U.S., Arbaisiar was arrested at JFK airport in New York, where he allegedly confessed to his involvement in the plot after waiving his right to counsel.
Arbabsiar allegedly told agents that his cousin, who he had long understood to be a senior member of the Qods Force, had approached him in the early spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap the Ambassador. Arbabsiar told agents that he then met with the CS-1 in Mexico and discussed assassinating the Ambassador. According to the complaint, Arbabsiar said that, afterwards, he met several times in Iran with Shakuri and another senior Qods Force official, where he explained that the plan was to blow up a restaurant in the United States frequented by the Ambassador and that numerous bystanders could be killed, according to the complaint. The plan was allegedly approved by these officials.
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