Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Suspect in attack on US diplomat in Mexico brought to US

A California man who authorities say shot and wounded a U.S. consular officer in Mexico appeared to don a wig and stalk his target before opening fire, according to court papers. Authorities brought Zia Zafar, 31, of Chino Hills, California, to the U.S. to face a federal charge of attempted murder of a diplomat. Zafar made his initial appearance in federal court in Alexandria. Surveillance video captured parts of the shooting of consular officer Christopher Ashcraft, including video showing a shooter taking aim and firing a shot. Ashcraft told authorities he noticed a man wearing blue scrubs and what appeared to be a wig who was watching and waiting for Ashcraft as he left a gym, according to an FBI affidavit. As Ashcraft got into his car and was exiting a shopping center parking garage, he was shot once in the chest, according to the affidavit. The affidavit says Mexican police recovered a pistol, a pair of sunglasses and a wig similar to the one seen in the surveillance video from Zafar’s residence in Guadalajara. The affidavit also states that Mexican officials obtained surveillance video of a person matching the description of the shooter paying for a purchase at a nearby Starbucks ahead of the shooting. The person paid with a credit card in Zafar’s name, the affidavit says. Ashcraft was still recovering from the shooting in a Mexican medical facility, according to the affidavit. The affidavit did not state any motive for the shooting. The FBI, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and Mexican authorities are all investigating the shooting with assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division. Zafar entered Mexico on a student visa and holds a U.S. passport as well as a California driver’s license, according to court records. Zafar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.


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