Manssor Arbabsiar – Gholam Shakuri: Iranian Plot to Bomb Saudi and Israeli Embassies: Act of War?

Two men have been charged with conspiracy to murder the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., by bombing the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. I have to think that means they were also planning to murder the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. as well, but there is little news about Israel also being a target. Saudi ambassador Adel A Al-Jubeir was specifically targeted. See the other detailed charges below. One of the men, Manssor Arbabsiar, is a naturalized U.S. citizen holding both U.S. and Iranian passports. Gholam Shakuri (Ali Gholam Shakuri) resides in Iran and is a member of Iran’s Special Ops Qods Force, a part of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps. Arbabsiar was arrested in New York City at JFK airport on September 29, 2011. There is little doubt that the country of Iran is behind the plan, which also included bombing the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina. Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra and former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said this is an “Act of War,” and must be treated as such. Obama was first briefed on the case in June 2011. See a video below.

Abdel A Al-Jubeir, Saudia Arabian Ambassador to the U.S.

A DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agent met with Arbabsiar in Mexico. The agent known as CS-1 posed as an “associate” of “a violent international drug trafficking cartel.” The plot developed from there.

The Department of Justice:

Both defendants are 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. Arbabsiar is further charged with an additional count of foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

“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,” said Attorney General Holder. “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.”…

The Alleged Plot

The criminal complaint alleges that, from the spring of 2011 to October 2011, Arbabsiar and his Iran-based co-conspirators, including Shakuri of the Qods Force, have been plotting the murder of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.   In furtherance of this conspiracy, Arbabsiar allegedly met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source (CS-1) who has posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel.   According to the complaint, Arbabsiar arranged to hire CS-1 and CS-1’s purported accomplices to murder the Ambassador, and Shakuri and other Iran-based co-conspirators were aware of and approved the plan.   With Shakuri’s approval, Arbabsiar has allegedly caused approximately $100,000 to be wired into a bank account in the United States as a down payment to CS-1 for the anticipated killing of the Ambassador, which was to take place in the United States.

According to the criminal complaint, the IRCG is an arm of the Iranian military that is composed of a number of branches, one of which is the Qods Force.  The Qods Force conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations and kidnappings, and is believed to sponsor attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.   In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

The complaint alleges that Arbabsiar met with CS-1 in Mexico on May 24, 2011, where Arbabsiar inquired as to CS-1’s knowledge with respect to explosives and explained that he was interested in, among other things, attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia.   In response, CS-1 allegedly indicated that he was knowledgeable with respect to C-4 explosives.   In June and July 2011, the complaint alleges, Arbabsiar returned to Mexico and held additional meetings with CS-1, where Arbabsiar explained that his associates in Iran had discussed a number of violent missions for CS-1 and his associates to perform, including the murder of the Ambassador.

$1.5 Million Fee for Alleged Assassination

In a July 14, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 allegedly told Arbabsiar that he would need to use four men to carry out the Ambassador’s murder and that his price for carrying out the murder was $1.5 million. Arbabsiar allegedly agreed and stated that the murder of the Ambassador should be handled first, before the execution of other attacks.   Arbabsiar also allegedly indicated he and his associates had $100,000 in Iran to pay CS-1 as a first payment toward the assassination and discussed the manner in which that payment would be made.

During the same meeting, Arbabsiar allegedly described to CS-1 his cousin in Iran, who he said had requested that Arbabsiar find someone to carry out the Ambassador’s assassination.   According to the complaint, Arbabsiar indicated that his cousin was a “big general” in the Iranian military; that he focuses on matters outside Iran and that he had taken certain unspecified actions related to a bombing in Iraq.

In a July 17, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 noted to Arbabsiar that one of his workers had already traveled to Washington, D.C., to surveill the Ambassador.   CS-1 also raised the possibility of innocent bystander casualties. The complaint alleges that Arbabsiar made it clear that the assassination needed to go forward, despite mass casualties, telling CS-1, “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em.”  CS-1 and Arbabsiar allegedly discussed bombing a restaurant in the United States that the Ambassador frequented.   When CS-1 noted that others could be killed in the attack, including U.S. senators who dine at the restaurant, Arbabsiar allegedly dismissed these concerns as “no big deal.”

On Aug. 1, and Aug. 9, 2011, with Shakuri’s approval, Arbabsiar allegedly caused two overseas wire transfers totaling approximately $100,000 to be sent to an FBI undercover account as a down payment for CS-1 to carry out the assassination.   Later, Arbabsiar allegedly explained to CS-1 that he would provide the remainder of the $1.5 million after the assassination. On Sept. 20, 2011, CS-1 allegedly told Arbabsiar that the operation was ready and requested that Arbabsiar either pay one half of the agreed upon price ($1.5 million) for the murder or that Arbabsiar personally travel to Mexico as collateral for the final payment of the fee.   According to the complaint, Arbabsiar agreed to travel to Mexico to guarantee final payment for the murder.

Arrest and Alleged Confession

On or about Sept. 28, 2011, Arbabsiar flew to Mexico.   Arbabsiar was refused entry into Mexico by Mexican authorities and, according to Mexican law and international agreements; he was placed on a return flight destined for his last point of departure.    On Sept. 29, 2011, Arbabsiar was arrested by federal agents during a flight layover at JFK International Airport in New York.   Several hours after his arrest, Arbabsiar was advised of his Miranda rights and he agreed to waive those rights and speak with law enforcement agents.   During a series of Mirandized interviews, Arbabsiar allegedly confessed to his participation in the murder plot.

According to the complaint, Arbabsiar also admitted to agents that, in connection with this plot, he was recruited, funded and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force.   He allegedly said these Iranian officials were aware of and approved of the use of CS-1 in connection with the plot; as well as payments to CS-1; the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the United States and the casualties that would likely result.

Arbabsiar allegedly told agents that his cousin, who he had long understood to be a senior member of the Qods Force, had approached him in the early spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap the Ambassador.   Arbabsiar told agents that he then met with the CS-1 in Mexico and discussed assassinating the Ambassador.   According to the complaint, Arbabsiar said that, afterwards, he met several times in Iran with Shakuri and another senior Qods Force official, where he explained that the plan was to blow up a restaurant in the United States frequented by the Ambassador and that numerous bystanders could be killed, according to the complaint.   The plan was allegedly approved by these officials.

In October 2011, according to the complaint, Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to Shakuri in Iran that were monitored.  During these phone calls, Shakuri allegedly confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, “[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late . . .”  The complaint alleges that Shakuri also told Arbabsiar that he would consult with his superiors about whether they would be willing to pay CS-1 additional money.

Manssor Arbabsiar has lived in Pflugerville, Texas for about 5 years.

It appears that the charges today do not include plans to blow up the Israeli embassy, although Reuters reports there was a plan to do so.

Jennifer Griffin on Fox is reporting this plot will not bring a “Declaration of War” against Iran and she quoted a spokesman saying “this is not a trip wire for Iran,” but Iran “will be held accountable.” So, how we will hold them accountable? Read the original complaint here.

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Eric Holder on Iranian Plot to Kill on U.S. Soil (video)

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook