I suppose I should have prefaced the title of this post with the qualifier “allegedly,” although for the sake of argument I’ll assume that the allegations contained in the Justice Department indictment are true. There are a number of angles from which this story can be approached, and many of them have already been teased out by analysts, reporters, and foreign policy experts over the past day. These include conspiracy theories asserting that this development is merely a means of deflecting the widening fallout from Operation Fast and Furious, commentary on the regional power struggle between the House of Saud and the mullahs in Iran, and rumblings that this might be a prelude to hostilities between the United States and the IRI.
What interests me about this story-aside from the fact that one of the purported plotters is a naturalized American citizen-is the rush by pundits to dismiss the idea that members of the Quds Force, a paramilitary, terrorist arm of Iran’s military-would collaborate with a Mexican drug cartel. Leaving aside the question of whether this plot was undertaken by actors within the Iranian regime, the notion that terrorists and Mexican narco-traffickers would cooperate is hardly outlandish. It’s been well established that Hezbollah, the cat’s paw of the ayatollahs in charge of Iran, has extensive operations in Latin America, including Mexico, so the means to effect a consequential terrorist assault certainly exists, as the Jewish community in Argentina knows all too well. And the nexus between drug lords and international terrorists has certainly been well documented, in countries ranging from Colombia to Afghanistan to other nations throughout the world.
Plus, the cooperation between Iran and anti-American regimes within Latin America, such as those of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, is an established fact. So the question is not whether this sort of terrorist collaboration is possible, but whether the Zetas and an arm of the Iranian regime worked together in this specific case. That’s something that federal prosecutors and policy-makers will have to contemplate in the days ahead.