Thursday, October 13, 2011

DEA Agents Help Thwart Assassination Attempt on Saudi Ambassador to the United States

Federal officials have charged two individuals for their alleged participation in an assassination plot directed by factions of the Iranian government against Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir, Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a press conference Tuesday.

Officials filed a criminal complaint against Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, a member of Iran's Qods Force, which is believed to sponsor terrorist attacks abroad. Arbabsiar was arrested on Sept. 29 and Shakuri remains at large.

"The criminal complaint unsealed today exposes a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil with explosives," Holder said. "Through the diligent and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we were able to disrupt this plot before anyone was harmed."

According to the complaint, Arbabsiar met with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confidential source who posed as a member of a violent drug trafficking cartel. Arbabsiar agreed to hire the confidential source to murder Al-Jubeir and Shakuri approved of the wiring of $100,000 to a U.S. bank account as down payment for killing the Ambassador. The total agreed price for the assassination was reputedly $1.5 million.

Arbabsiar admitted to federal law enforcement agents that the plan was to bomb a restaurant the Ambassador frequented and acknowledged that many bystanders could be killed, the complaint alleged.
Shakuri and Arbabsiar were 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 on mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries.

On Wednesday morning, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," "CBS's The Early Show" and NBC's "Today" to speak about the events and said the United States will hold Iran accountable for their involvement in the plot.

"It's an outrage that violates one of the fundamental premises of on which nations deal with one another and that is the sanctity and safety of their diplomats," Biden said on "Good Morning America." "This is really over the top. They have to be held accountable and we're in the process of uniting world public opinion toward continuing to isolate and condemn their behavior."

The criminal complaint is available here.