- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Not surprisingly, the alleged plot by a member of Iran’s Quds Force to conspire with undercover agents that he thought were members of the Zetas drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States — or, the Taqqiya Tacos plot, as my colleague Blake Hounshell has dubbed it — has set off a new round of border security warnings.
Rick Perry, trying desperately to downplay his past dovishness on immigration, said in a speech today that the news shows that "We cannot have national security until we have border security."
Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) took it a step further:
"It is a real concern when you’re talking about 1,200 miles of border between the United States and Mexico, that someone would have a plan to invade our country and take control of those border counties," Carter said. "I would call that invasion."
Over at FP’s Shadow Government blog, José Cárdenas says the plot "can also be seen as the fruits of Iran’s steady expansion into Latin America and attempts to make common cause with transnational criminal operations in its global conflict with the United States."
I’m not so sure. There’s evidence that Hezbollah has been working to establish itself in Latin America. But the important thing to remember in this case is that the only Zeta involved in the plot was a U.S. informant. If anything, the main takeaway here is that Tehran’s man in Corpus Christi was pretty gullible.
This is a bit similar to the round of warnings from the DEA and Congress last year about the threat of a FARC-Al Qaeda alliance after three West African militants were busted by a DEA agent posing as a representative of the Colombian group. In this case, there were no actual FARC members involved at any stage.
Again, folks with higher security clearance than me may have good reason to believe these linkages exist, but from the publicly reported cases, prospective Islamist terror-plotters seem to have more contact with the DEA than with Latin American militant groups.
It does seem like reports of foreign meddling south of the border touch a nerve for Americans. Remember that it was the revelation of an alleged German-Mexican conspiracy that finally pushed the U.S. into World War I.