From the Archives
More on the bomb plot that has been covered by Borderland Beat;
Is U.S. a target from Islamic Extremists via Mexico?
Reporter: Tom Ramstack
The reports drew denials from Mexico’s secretary of the navy.
Nevertheless, at least two Mexican media organizations published allegedly leaked government documents giving details of how the navy thwarted the attack.
The American media outlet CNN is quoting an unnamed State Department source saying Mexican police arrested a Somali citizen suspected of planning a terrorist attack in June 2010.
He was investigated for hiding explosives but was released because evidence against him was inconclusive.
The Mexican news media reports gave much more detail.
They said an internal Mexican navy document dated June 10, 2010, gave a list of incriminating items found in a hotel in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood.
The items included a cardboard cylindrical container that held 22.7 kilograms of high explosives. It was sealed in paraffin wax along with two kinds of copper wrapped in plastic.
Navy agents also found four multi-channel radios, a frequency analyzer, a liter of nitric acid, six liters of pure glycerin, a plastic bag containing detonating cords and a kilogram of aluminum. Nearby was a copy of the Koran and a Muslim prayer rug.
The report quoted by the news media said police seized identification papers from a Somali man called Ahmed who was using the name Arturo Hernandez Hernandez.
Papers he carried bore the logo of the Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab, the news reports said. He entered Mexico from Guatemala.
The tip that alerted police to Ahmed’s presence originated with the Israeli embassy in Mexico City, according to the document quoted by the media.
“U.S. authorities informed us that intelligence officers assigned to the Embassy of Israel in Mexico are the ones who have followed the trail of the alleged terrorist of Somali nationality, named Ahmed, who allegedly belongs to an international armed Islamic extremist organization and of whom we attached a photograph and fake identification,” the document says.
“There is also information about the explosives that would be used to attack the Embassy of the United States of America in Mexico, among other targets, such as consulates,” the document says.
Ahmed’s presence at the Puebla Hotel in Mexico City beginning on June 7, 2010, was verified by surveillance cameras, the document says.
The document was marked “confidential” and carried the stamp of the Mexican government and the navy, the media reports said.
However, the Mexican secretary of the navy said the documents were “fake.”
He released a statement saying the navy “categorically rejects the authorship of the alleged report in possession of some media outlets.”
The statement also said, “The print seals and watermarks that appear on the document, as well as its format, do not correspond to the ones utilized by this federal government agency.”
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials in Washington said they were unaware of any plot to blow up the American embassy in Mexico City.
If the media reports are true, they appear to verify recent statements at congressional hearings by Homeland Security Department officials who said Islamic terrorists might be using Mexico as a back door for attacks against the United States.
The media report comes only days after the Obama administration announced the arrest of an American Muslim accused of trying to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
The Justice Department says he was captured after trying to hire members of a Mexican drug cartel to kill the ambassador with a bomb at a Washington restaurant.
President Barack Obama blamed the Iranian government for sponsoring the planned bombing. He said the plot continued a pattern of “dangerous and reckless behavior” by the Iranians.
The Iranian government denies any involvement.
This was a review of events given by Notocias MVS with Caremn Aristegui:
- On June 9, 2010, the Semar reported an operation in Merida 12, Colonia Roma. This is what authorities reported of the operation; "Over 20 kilograms of high explosive were recovered. The material is used in demolition and when applied directly to structures the velocity of the detonation along with the density of the blast is sufficient to demolish through steel." That night Televisa showed footage of the place and showed the materials described by the Navy.
- On June 10, 2010 SIEDO corrects the Navy and reports: "the official opinion is that chemicals found at the scene which included glycerin, nitric acid and paraffin ... do not correspond to any type of explosive material and in regards to the people detained, they were not under arrest, they were merely people presented."
- In June 2010, Dolia Estévez, of MVS Mexican News confirms, with her sources in Washington that the original version of the Navy regarding the explosives was true and that the DEA was involved in the matter.
- The 26, 30 and 31 of August 2010, Semar answers three requests for information by the media pursuant to the Transparency of Law. On the 26th they says that since the SIEDO determined that the substances that were seized were not found to be any type of explosive material, Semar determines that their position is confirmation of the matter in question." On the 30th, they responded that "in their examination of the material using molecular detection equipment which has an effectively accuracy of 99.00% in determining explosives, the material examined in this specific case tested positive for explosives." Then on August 31 they said: "... Semar did not conduct an examination of the material since they do not posses any scientific means of examining chemicals or provide any conclusions to that end." They stress that SIEDO did determine that the material was in fact "paraffin, glycerin and nitric acid."
- On June 17 the official website of the Navy removed the statement of the investigation 141/2010 where they revealed the discovery of the explosives.
- On June 22, 2010 the Navy again gives access to their unchanged statement providing a description of explosive materials.
- On August 31, 2010, PGR (The Attorney General Office) officially refuses to provide information on the matter claiming that it is of confidential information ... and may remain as such until a period of 12 years."
- On October 13, 2011 the blog Borderland Beat that reports on the Mexican Cartel Drug War, that appear to be retired members of intelligence services in the United States, released a confidential document that is said to be originated by Semar entitled "Operation Salim." Dolia Estevez advises that it appears to be an official looking document, as well as the official seals and security marks on the paper. The document provides details of the operation, its purpose and what they found. It states: "what was found inside the cardboard box that was taped with a brown sticker bearing the logo of the armed Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab." It also reports that: "U.S. officials informed us that intelligence officers assigned to the Embassy of Israel in Mexico are the ones who have been tracking the alleged terrorist named Amhed who is said to be a Somali national. He allegedly belongs to the international armed Islamic extremist organization and whose photograph and a copy of his Mexican credentials has been falsified. There is also information that the explosives would be used to attack targets against the United States Embassy in Mexico, and other U.S. targets such as consulates."
- On October 18, 2011. Semar rejects "categorically the authenticity of the documents." It claims that the documents are not legitimate however they say that they are not in any position to discuss the matter of the content."
- On October 18 and 19 the journalist Joaquin Lopez Doriga of Millennium and Televisa says that the confidential document "Operation Salim" was leaked by the Government of the United States.
- On June 20, 2010, journalist Jorge Alejandro Medellin published in the "Millennium Weekly" a report: "DEA and the Mexican Marines: how to hunt a terrorist" whose content coincides with the document attributed to the Navy. The story has never been officially rejected by the Mexican government. In the last paragraph it reads: "The man that the Mexican Marines and the DEA were looking for in the house of Mérida 12 had left the place three weeks before. In his room the fourth Special Forces of the Navy of Mexico found a copy of the Koran."
- On September 9, 2011 Guillermo Valdés of CISEN said: "In Mexico some groups still operate that believe in violence as an instrument of change. We can never rule out the risk of the real possibility of the presence of Islamic terrorism in our country."
- On October 20, 2011. MVS reporter Dolia Estevez said that according to her sources in the United States, their position is that it is very possible that the confidential report "Operation Salim" may in fact not be a false document.