Two men, identified as Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, have been charged with conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir.
Only Manssor Arbabsiar has been detained in New York for his participation in a plot directed by elements of the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador with explosives, as well as targeting Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington D.C. The individual identified as Manssor Arbabsiar has confessed to his role in the alleged plot and provided details of the operation. The other individual, Gholam Shakuri, is a supposed member of Iran’s Qods Force, which is a special operations unit for the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGGC) that is said to sponsor and promote terrorist activities abroad. Shakuri, who is based in Iran, remains “at large.” Both men have been charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official; conspiracy to engage in foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives); and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries.
“The criminal complaint unsealed today exposes a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on US soil with explosives. Through the diligent and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we were able to disrupt this plot before anyone was harmed. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously and bring those who have violated any laws to justice.” – Eric J. Holder, General Attorney
The plot, code-named Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, (Arbabsiar) approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel in the plot. The arrest and current indictment is the result of a sting operation conducted by the FBI. Arbabsiar, arrested on September 29th, is accused in a $1.5 million “international murder-for-hire” plot against the Saudi envoy to the US. The confession by Arbabsiar alleges that from Spring 2011 to October 2011, the two conspirators had been plotting the murder of the Saudi Ambassador. Seeking help, Arbabsiar apparently sought out the aid of the Mexican drug cartel known as the Zetas, but was actually dealing with a DEA informant. An approximate $100,000 was wired to a bank account in the US as a down payment to the drug cartel. During a meeting with the informant, Arbabsiar allegedly described his cousin in Iran, a “big general” in this Iranian military and that he, the cousin, had taken certain unspecified actions related to a bombing in Iraq. The information confirms US beliefs that Qods Force was responsible for sponsoring attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq, as well as supplying support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. Moreover, the confession by the terrorist affirmed that the conspirators were prepared for mass civilian casualties, but considered them as insignificant.
“They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him fuck ’em” – Manssor Arbabsiar, Iranian-American terrorist
The final arrest came when the DEA informant requested Arbabsiar to fly to Mexico as collateral for the final payment of the fee to carry out the plot. On September 29th, Arbabsiar arrived in Mexico but was refused entry by authorities and placed upon a mandatory return flight, as authorized by international law. This led to his arrest during a flight layover at JFK International Airport in New York.
The American President was first briefed on this issues in June and directed his administration to provide all necessary support to this investigation. So saying, the confirmation of Iranian involvement and direct responsibility for the act will spur international strife between Iran and the US, escalating an already exuberant conflict between the hostile nations. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, Iran will be held accountable through further sanction and the US will precede by bringing the plot up with the UNSC and other members of the international community for a united condemnation. With Iran’s geopolitical significance and already escalated tension due to the “Arab Spring” and foreign involvement, sanction may seem irrelevant but any further action will be risky and questionable. Nevertheless, Iran is not without a refutation to the terrorist plot. According to Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated that the plot to commit terrorism inside the US with Iranian directives is a fabrication.
“As alleged, these defendants were part of a well-funded and pernicious plot that had, as its first priority, the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, without care of concern for the mass casualties that would result from their planned attack. Today’s charges should make crystal clear that we will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground.” – Lisa O. Monaco, Assistant Attorney General