On March 15, 2010 a police camera in Creel, which is located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, captured a horrific episode that is becoming an almost daily occurrence in northern Mexico. The video shows dozens of armed men in several vehicles enter the town at dawn and literally occupy the town of 5,400. The men are all armed with assault rifles and some are dressed in paramilitary garb. The video shows the men consuming drugs and blockading the streets. One by one vehicles entering the town are accosted, one driver is seen being removed forcibly from his truck. At one point the video shows two people being shot in an SUV.
The later part of the video features a segment that is nearly identical to the kinds of videos out of places like Baghdad and Kandahar that viewers have become accustomed to in the last ten years. Some of the men, ones that are dressed in paramilitary clothing, are seen storming a field and then opening fire upon a housing unit. It was later revealed that several members of a single family were killed.
"We don't know what group these hit men are part of, but here in Chihuahua there are two warring groups: the Sinaloa Cartel and Juarez Cartel," said Carlos Gonzalez, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office. "We're working on trying to figure out which group was responsible." (1)
It may not be known for sure which group is responsible for the carnage in Creel, but it bears all of the hallmarks of the Zetas, the splinter paramilitary group whose original members were trained in special operations by the US, French and Israeli militaries. The attack on this tiny Chihuahua town is a testament that the drug war has gone way beyond the traditional 'street fight' of the cartels and gangs. We are now seeing out and out terror being brazenly perpetrated against innocent civilians, actions which clearly do not reap monetary gain. After all, at the end of the day for traditional drug dealers the bottom line is the money, not dead bodies.
As shocking as the video of Creel is it is not the most shocking story to come out of northern Mexico of late. Last March, in the state of Durango, a truck carrying 10 teenagers was ordered to stop on rural road by men who were described as military looking. In an act of depraved overkill the men threw hand grenades at the truck and then blasted it with gunfire. Two surviving girls crawled wounded to the next town and were ordered to warn the Army of what had happened. These children had no ties to the drug war and yet their brutal killing was somehow necessary to 'send a message'. But what is the message when the victims are so young, so innocent?
Roots of terror.
The criminal activity and narcoterrorism of northern Mexico is having a devastating impact not only on cities like Juarez and Tijuana, but also many rural communities as well. Indeed, many small border towns that once littered the northern countryside have been completely abandoned. In Juarez alone since 2008 over 20,000 homes have been abandoned, 10,000 businesses have shut and tens of thousands of residents have fled the town. These statistics rival that of statistics wrought by the other war half-way around the globe, the War on Terror. To illustrate the geopolitical impact of these statistics I would like to take a look back at two groups whose dubious relationship with the United States has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the middle east.
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970's the US needed a hedge against the invading army so they recruited the local mujahideen and other Islamists from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It is well documented that the key player in this rag-tag theater, Osama bin Laden, was directly connected to the CIA through funding and training. The CIA kept track of their new extremist friends by putting them in a 'database', or in Arabic, al-Qaeda.
And then there's the Taliban. That other enemy that we occasionally fight, and then give money and arms to when they're are down on their luck(2), and then fight again. About the Taliban Hillary Clinton had this to say, "Let's not forget that the people we are fighting today are the people we funded 20 years ago." Congressman Dana Rohrbacher was even more specific, "Let me repeat (that): The Clinton Administration, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, created the Taliban."
And so once again we come full circle. This time, however, not half way around the world, but in our own backyard. The military training, the congressional funding, the camps, the rogue terrorist network. In the Zetas, has the US created another monster, another 'enemy' that we may have to go to war with right at our own border...in our own country?
School of the Americas
Stratfor is an Austin-based company that specializes in intelligence and security analysis. Analyst Alex Posey, who works for Stratfor, says that members of the criminal cartels are experimenting with improvised explosive devices, the infamous 'roadside bomb'. If this is so then these criminal elements must have some connections to the military since most IED's are made with military grade explosives. Add to this the fact that it is now known that there are several ranches in northern Mexico that have been converted into training camps for the militarized cartels. The question is who is running these camps.
If it is hard to believe that our own US military trained future terrorists right in our own backyard then it might be even harder to imagine that some of the Zetas may have been trained on US soil, on a well known military base no less. The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the notorious School of the Americas, sits ominously within Ft. Benning, Georgia. Commonly referred to as WHINSEC, the school claims that contrary to its previous endeavors that it now teaches about human rights and democracy. Many are skeptical of this decree. After all, the school has a long sordid history of training devils, despots and death squads to then be merrily released to wreak havoc on Latin America. As they say, rarely does a cheetah change its stripes.
This brings us to the frightening possibility that some of the Zetas are actually graduates of this infamous Institute. In an article titled "They're called Los Zetas" investigative journalist Michael Webster claims that sources close to the CIA told him that some the Zetas have in fact been students at WHINSEC. I have recently been in contact with Mr. Webster and he has confirmed that his sources are directly connected to the CIA. Even Wikipedias page for Los Zetas says that some of the people who formed the group went to WHINSEC. If this is true then it is unequivocal proof that the United States is engaged in training the very entities that may someday be called al-Qaeda in Mexico.
As this series continues I will further unravel the mystery of the Zetas and who is responsible for their creation. Are names like Guzman Decenas, Lazcano Lazcano and Gonzalez Duran merely ex-patriots of the Mexican Army, or do they have direct connections to the US military or military installations within the United States?
1. ALIPAC Website
2. Timesonline UK, "Spooks get permission to buy off Taliban" June 14, 2009