90 Miles From Tyranny : How A Mexican Drug Cartel Nearly Triggered War Between The U.S. And Iran

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How A Mexican Drug Cartel Nearly Triggered War Between The U.S. And Iran

Those dismissive of the danger posed by Mexican drug cartels ought to learn of the time they nearly carried out the worst terrorist attack in America since 9/11 and almost triggered a resulting war with Iran.

The massacre of nine dual-citizen American Mexican Mormons less than 100 miles from the border with the United States serves as a reminder of the dangers the cartels pose and the existence of one of the world’s deadliest wars in America’s own neighborhood.

The Mexican drug war and cartels don’t preoccupy the national security/foreign policy establishment and the media the same way the Syrian civil war and Middle East militants do. But the conflict south of the border isn’t only getting worse, Latin America stands to pose a greater (if not the greatest) national security challenge for the United States in years to come. If policymakers, think tanks, and the media won’t sound the alarm now, they’ll have no choice but to do so later.

That lesson was almost learned the hard way eight years ago, during Barack Obama’s presidency. A drug cartel was nearly responsible for the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, one that could’ve sparked a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

How Did This Almost Happen?

On Oct. 11, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced the plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir had been foiled, and one of the suspects, U.S. citizen Manssor Arbabsiar, had been arrested. The other suspect, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force operative Gholam Shakuri, was never arrested and remains at large to this day.

According to the Department of Justice, Jubeir’s assassination was plotted from spring to October 2011. Throughout the year, Arbabsiar went to Mexico to enlist the services of someone he believed was an associate of a Mexican drug cartel. Only it wasn’t — his contact was actually an informant for...

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