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October 14, 2001

Narco News 2001

Correction & Update

on Mexico Arrests

Yesterday, October 13th, Narco News published translations of two articles from the Mexican press about the arrest of two former Israeli military officers in Mexico City. While the translation was accurate, we stated that the information had "not been reported nor refuted by a single U.S. correspondent from wire services or daily newspapers with offices in Mexico."

But according to authentic journalist Ken Layne - - who was, until very recently when he was inexplicably let go from the publication, the best reason to read Online Journalism Review (a web publication of the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of California), other English-language news organizations did, in fact, publish brief stories after the two Israelis were arrested, and made those stories available to U.S. newspapers.

No news organization likes to issue corrections, but authentic journalism demands corrections, even if errors were innocently made. This is especially true at an hour like this one, when so much of the media is publishing unsubstantiated and soon discredited "official information." We would rather correct our errors at Narco News than try to save face.

Our statement was based on our search of the websites of the English-language news organizations: none of these stories were available to the public on the free websites of the agencies - AP, EFE, AFP, Dow Jones and Notimex - that did cover at least part of this story. But Ken Layne, on his own initiative, utilizing the paid service of Dow Jones, not available gratis to the general public, has learned that the story was at least mentioned by these organizations and was, in fact, made available to English-language newspapers.

Layne writes, "the Dow Jones database shows five English-language wire reports on Oct. 11 (two from EFE News Service, and one each from Dow Jones, AP, and Notimex), one on Oct. 12 (BBC), and one today (Agence France-Presse)."

Narco News thus regrets our error in criticizing "all" news organizations, when these five agencies clearly did offer coverage of the story.

Layne summarizes those wire reports on his web site: "The wire stories say the men work for a Mexican company called Private Security Systems Development; that the company's lawyer says the men (both former members of Israel's military; one a naturalized Mexican citizen) have permits for their pistols; that the men were outside the House of Representatives and on their way to a meeting to try to sell their company's security services... the "nine grenades" was a novelty cigarette lighter; that the "sugar industry" workers were a bunch of farmers having a Sit-In outside the government building; that said sugar farmers were annoyed by the men taking photos of the area, which would be necessary if they were selling private security services to officials who worked there; and that the "bomb" consisted of some cables in a briefcase one of the men carried."

Layne also states that: "The most telling detail in this story comes from a BBC translation of a Notimex report: 'The arrest of the two individuals, one who said he was Mexican and the other Israeli, provoked a huge police mobilization this Wednesday (10 October) at the Congressional headquarters, known as the San Lazaro Palace.'"

Narco News apologizes to the aforementioned news organizations for our statement that they had not covered the story. As stated in our original commentary (below), we await more information before speculating or analyzing which of the now-conflicting news reports are accurate.

To read the full report on Ken Layne's web site, click here. Maybe someday, after we win the Drug War on Trial case underway in New York, we will be able to think about hiring an ace ombudsman like Ken Layne. Meanwhile, we are grateful for his labor in deepening the story.

Our original posting appears, untouched, below.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano, Publisher

The Narco News Bulletin

Armed with Bombs

in Mexican Congress

2 Israelis Arrested Wednesday

A Story Censored by U.S. Press

A Narco News Global Alert

Narco News Commentary: The following two stories, from the daily Crónica de Hoy of Mexico City, October 12 and 13, 2001, have not been reported nor refuted by a single U.S. correspondent from wire services or daily newspapers with offices in Mexico. The stories are documented with an official Mexican government investigation number and quotes from the Israeli Embassy in Mexico City.

In the interests of the public's right to know, Narco News publishes translations of both stories, uncensored and unabridged. We are investigating the situation and will provide analysis once more information is available. Certainly, the information, as it stands, is inconvenient to Washington wartime propaganda and the fact that U.S. media has not reported it raises issues of press freedom and responsibility that we will also explore in the coming days.

From October 12:

Mexico will investigate if

Israelis were terrorists

-- They were armed with 9mm pistols, nine grenades, explosives, three detonators and 58 bullets

-- They were detained by sugar industry workers in the Legislative Palace

By Alejandro Páez and Francisco Mejía

From Crónica de Hoy, Mexico City, October 12, 2001

Unabridged Translation by The Narco News Bulletin

The Attorney General is investigating and interrogating two Israelis (one already a nationalized Mexican) who were detained in the House of Representatives Wednesday with two 9mm pistols, nine grenades, explosives, three detonators and 58 bullets, to determine if they belong to any group connected with terrorists or subversive groups.

Salvador Gersson Smike, 34, a retired Israeli military official and nationalized Mexican, and Sar Ben Zui, 27, of Israeli nationality, were held yesterday in the installations of the metropolitan offices of the Attorney General, headed by the assistant attorney general for criminal process Gilberto Higuera Bernal. They were interrogated to clarify the source of the arms that they carried and to determine if they are guilty of a crime.

Up until now the authorities have not declared about the status of investigation number PGR/11-15-01 and they will wait until tonight when the constitutional limit for determining the legal situation of the arrested parties expires.

Both subjects were detained in the installations of the legislative palace of San Lazaro when a group of sugar industry workers that had met with the Speaker of the House, Beatriz Paredes, left to discuss their issues in the lobby and the two arrested persons arrived and began photographing them.

This activity and the form in which they took the pictures (aiming their cameras below the belts of the workers) generated tension among the sugar workers who proceeded to demand their identification immediately.

The Israelis identified themselves as press photographers, but they were not believed and the workers overcame them and then discovered that they were armed with pistols and other high caliber arms.

From October 13:

The Isreali Embassy will

monitor the arrest of Sar Ben Zui

By Francisco Mejía

Crónica de Hoy, Mexico City, October 13, 2001

Unabridged Translation by The Narco News Bulletin

The Isreali Embassy in Mexico has confidence that its citizen, Sar Ben Zui, will be investigated in accordance with the law and the consul, Elias Luf, is following the investigations, his spokeswoman Hila Engelhart confirmed.

She said that the Embassy does not regulate the entrance of Israelis in Mexico and doesn't know anything about what the arrested individual was doing. She said that the citizens of that country that come to Mexico, like all others from Israel, are not required to have any special visa for their travels.

As will be remembered, Sar Ben Zui Was detained, with another subject, when both were allegedly armed inside the House of Representatives.

According to statements by elements of the legislative security staff, the suspects carried arms, explosives, nine grenades, bullets and a detonator.

In a telephone conversation the spokeswoman assured that the Embassy has confidence in the Mexican institutions to do what is necessary to enforce the law. "We are waiting to find out what happened."

She informed that the Embassy doesn't have a program to monitor Israeli citizens who come to Mexico. In any case, she said, the Mexican secretary of state should have a registry of all persons who enter national territory.

She indicated that relations between the two countries are very good and that tourism is promoted by both countries.

Hila Engelhart recalled that it is not the first time that Mexico has detained an Israeli citizen in its country, however, she said that it is a situation that happens everywhere.

She reported that both countries collaborate constantly to monitor exceptional movements that occur and said that "in the case of the arrested Israelis, we hope the situation with be resolved quickly."

Finally, she said that the Israeli Ambassador is monitoring the arrests.

For more Narco News, click here

Breaking the Information Blockade