Mexico says it helped U.S. foil plot to kill Saudi envoy


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REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- 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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-- Tracy Wilkinson