Bombs on the border

July 18, 2010

A car bomb exploded two days ago, killing police officers and civilians in a terrorist attack. The attack didn’t occur where one might expect, Baghdad or Kabul, but in Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso:

Investigators in Mexico say a deadly attack by suspected drug cartel members in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez was a car bomb set off by mobile phone.

It is believed to be the first attack of its kind since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, promising to curb powerful drugs gangs.

Two police officers and two medics answering an emergency were killed.

Police said the attack was retaliation for the arrest of a leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero.

La Linea is part of the Juarez drug cartel.

Here’s a video report from al-Jazeera’s English-language service:

(via Big Peace)

Since Calderon came to power nearly four years ago, roughly 25,000 Mexicans have died in violence related to the drug cartels. So far as is known, this is the first car-bomb attack. President Calderon claims that the violence shows the cartels are panicking, feeling the pressure put on them by his government’s security measures. That may be, but it’s nonetheless true that parts of Mexico, especially the areas that border the United States, are looking more like war zones and out of the central government’s control.

And that’s a problem for us.

We know that jihadist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah are trying to exploit our porous Mexican border. Recently Mexican police foiled an attempt to set up a Hizbullah cell in Tijuana. Decades of experience shows that terrorist groups will often cooperate with criminal gangs for their mutual interests and, indeed, the line between them often becomes blurred. With the cartels’ expertise in smuggling, an alliance with them would be attractive to our jihadist enemies. But what would they want in return?

How about a technology transfer?

Experts: Car bomb in Juárez mimics Middle East terrorist tactics

The car bombing in Juárez on Thursday in which three people were killed signifies an escalation of brutality and sophistication in the city’s 2-year-old drug war, officials said.

Juárez officials on Friday confirmed a car bomb with C-4 plastic explosives was detonated from a remote location.

Local experts said the Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels apparently have adopted terrorists’ tactics that use suicide bombers and car bombs to kill foes or to make a point.

“It certainly seems like they’ve taken a page out of the Middle East,” said Richard Schwein, the former FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office.

“The cartels read the news and they hear about what is happening in the Middle East with the use of car bombs and suicide bombers. I don’t think they will ever use suicide bombers here, but car bombs are easy to make and to use.”

This is the first time a car bomb has been used in the Juárez drug war, which has claimed the lives of nearly 5,800 people since in began in 2008.

Experts agree that the use of a car bomb with a sophisticated detonation system and C-4 is a new tactic, one that requires planning and deliberation.

(via Creeping Sharia, which thinks, contra Mexican authorities, that suicide attackers were involved)

Now, I’m not saying that Hamas or Hizbullah or any other jihadist group made this device for La Linea, nor that the cartel couldn’t figure out how to do it, itself. But the learning curve would be considerably shortened by training under a Hizbullah expert, and coming in the wake of a growing jihadist presence in Mexico is suggestive, at least.

And it’s something we should be very worried about.

RELATED: Mexico’s Zetas threaten to blow up a US dam? Cross-border collateral damage?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)