AAM: "I couldn't shake the feeling that I was in the middle of an insurgency."
March 09, 2009
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Following a report about concerns that terrorist groups such as Hezbollah might make opportune use of the drug cartel wars in Mexico to set up a base south of our border, Michael talks to John Roberts and Kiran Chetry about the likelihood of such a scenario as well as a general rundown of the situation.
BARBARA STARR: ...stating that "any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone." The nightmare concern? International terrorist organizations joining forces with the Mexican drug cartels. A U.S. counter-terrorism official tells CNN one concern, a group like Hezbollah could turn its attention to Mexico and expand its operations south of the U.S. border. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
KIRAN CHETRY: So certainly a nightmare scenario there. Michael Ware has experience covering both the war on terror and the war here on our border, and he joins us this morning. So how realistic is it that an international terrorist organization, say something like Hezbollah, could actually join forces with the Mexican drug cartels?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's a bit of a stretch at this stage. That's certainly what the Pentagon is saying, however all the pieces of the puzzle are in place and certainly the cartels are motivated by the profits that they gain from running the drugs. If they saw it was in their financial interest to hook up with one of these group, then perhaps they might.
JOHN ROBERTS: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen was recently down in Mexico and other Latin American countries looking into the drug war. He suggested that maybe to use anti-terrorism tactics to fight these narco gangs. Is that an idea that you think would work?
WARE: Well, put it this way. When I was in Juarez, the border town just across from El Paso, about 10 days ago, this is the center of the drug war. Now, whilst there are many, many differences, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was in the middle of an insurgency. And indeed we see the "Foreign Policy" magazine come out this week and say that this is actually a raging insurgency and the war in Mexico is actually being fought just like an insurgency for the hearts and minds of the people.
You want to win this fight? You make people feel safe, so that they can tell you about the cartels. So that they can walk on the streets. But you know what? I hope Admiral Mullen told President Obama that right now as it's being fought, this war cannot be won.
CHETRY: And really illustrating this challenge, you guys were doing some reporting last week just about the police, you can't even trust whether or not...
WARE: Oh, no.
CHETRY: And those that are straight and on the straight and narrow are getting shot and killed.
WARE: They're lonely men and women. And indeed we saw just last weekend, again in Juarez, two police officers, a husband and a wife were cut down by the cartels, and she was pregnant.
WARE: And the week that I was there, eight police died as part of a campaign to force the police chief to stand down. The cartel said, you step down or we're just going to keep killing your officers, and they were true to their word.
ROBERTS: Unbelievable. I know you're going to be probably spending a lot of time there in the future, so we look forward to your reporting.
WARE: Yes, it looks that way.
ROBERTS: All right. Mike, thanks for coming in this morning. Appreciate it.
WARE: Thanks, guys.