On October 11, the U.S. Department of Justice charged two men with conspiring with “factions of the Iranian government” to carry out a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., Adel Al-Jubeir, and to bomb both the Saudi and Israeli embassies, all in Washington D.C. Attorney General Eric Holder praised law enforcement and intelligence agencies who worked together to disrupt a plot “conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran.”
According to early reports by Al Arabiya and other news agencies,
The case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a U.S. informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials. The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents quoted by ABC News….
An aide to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the U.S. allegations that the Islamic republic was involved in a plot to kill the Saudi envoy. “This is a prefabricated scenario to turn public attention away from domestic problems within the United States”… the president’s press advisor told AFP.
For a Spanish-language account of events, see Animal Político.
In the immediate aftermath of the press conference at which U.S. authorities first publicized the plot, blogsofwar.com began live-streaming tweets that responded to the provocative reports. In an apparent effort to promote coherence, the site divides the broad array of incoming tweets into three columns, headed “Iranian Plot,” “Mexican Drug Cartels” and “Saudi Arabia.” It is still livestreaming at the time of this post’s writing.
A Twitter search filtered through the hashtags #Mexico #Iran likewise turns up a spectrum of responses. While early tweets for the most part conveyed the details of the alleged plot, sometimes with links to news reports, it was not long before editorializing took over. @Sarmastian, based in Tottenham, was provoked to tweet twice in rapid succession:
Writing from Mexico, Carlos (@alquicarlos) used quotation marks, hashtags and a direct mention to Mexican President Felipe Calderón to inflect his intervention:
From the other side of the Rio Grande, @Lima570 from San Antonio wrote,
I hope no one is surprised that terrorist [sic] are working with Mexican drug cartel
@cspanwj If the mexican drug cartels are now terrorist organizations, did Holder give arms to terrorists?
In a similar vein, @TehGoldenRule posed a question that was not simply rhetorical.
@Ryan_Konky If that was an act of war what is letting 1,000s of assault weapons make their way to Mexican drug cartels?
From an unspecified location in the Twitterverse, @brownwc voiced a skepticism shared by many netizens around the globe.
Iranians hire Mexican drug cartel hit squad to assassinate Saudi ambassador. U.S. foils the plan. Can’t wait for the movie. #isthisreallife?