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U.S.: Iran Planned To Kill Saudi Ambassador

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
October 11, 2011

The Justice Department said Tuesday it had foiled a plot directed by elements in the Iranian government who sought to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S.

Attorney General Eric Holder said two men, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, have been accused in connection with the alleged plot. Authorities said they had planned a bombing to kill the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

Holder, speaking at a news conference along with FBI Director Robert Mueller, said the plot was “directed and approved” by senior members of Quds force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian military.

“High-up officials in those agencies, which is are an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible for this plot,” Holder said.

Holder said the plot “constitutes a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law, including a convention that explicitly protects diplomats from being harmed.

“The United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” he said.

One Suspect Arrested, One At Large

Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, has been in custody since Sept. 29, while Shakuri remains at large and is believed to be in the Middle East, authorities said.

The two men are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges.

Arbabsiar allegedly met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source who has posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel.

According to the complaint, Arbabsiar arranged to hire the source to carry out the assassination. Arbabsiar allegedly arranged a down payment of approximately $100,000 on a $1.5 million contract to be wired into a U.S. bank account. The assassination was to have taken place in the U.S.

A spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the allegations “a fabrication” and “a child’s story.”

Mueller said many lives could have been lost in the plot to kill the ambassador with bombs in the U.S.

“We will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Holder said the U.S. government would be taking action against the Iranian government as early as Tuesday, but declined specifics.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is preparing new penalties against Iran in the wake of the plot.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton said the Treasury Department soon would put more people under sanctions. She also predicted the plot would further isolate Iran.

This story contains material from The Associated Press [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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