US alleges Iranian plot to kill Saudi ambassador: How it unfolded.
In a case that reads like a spy novel, a US-Iranian citizen was charged Tuesday for allegedly plotting with an Iranian special operations officer to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US.
In a case that reads like a spy novel, a US-Iranian citizen was charged in New York Tuesday for allegedly plotting with an Iranian special operations officer to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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The alleged plot – code named “Chevrolet” – involved a promised $1.5 million payment to an associate of a violent drug cartel in Mexico who suggested he would plant an explosive device in the ambassador’s favorite restaurant in Washington.
Based on that promise, a $100,000 down payment was wired through a bank in New York City.
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What the alleged Iranian conspirators did not know is that their would-be assassin was, in fact, an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The assassination plot never developed beyond mere talk.
“This conspiracy was conceived, was sponsored, and was directed from Iran, and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law,” Mr. Holder said.
When pressed for details about whether senior Iranian government officials had known about or authorized the assassination, Holder said: “We are not making that charge at this point.”
The attorney general said federal agents had information that senior members of a special operations branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were responsible for the plot.
Charges were filed in federal court in Manhattan against Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized US citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, a colonel in the Iran-based Quds Force, a commando group accused by the US of sponsoring terror attacks outside Iran. (Al-Quds is Arabic for Jersusalem.)
Mr. Arbabsiar was arrested Sept. 29 at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. He made his initial appearance in court on Tuesday. If convicted he faces up to life in prison.
Mr. Shakuri remains at large and is presumed to be in Tehran.
The alleged plot began in early spring when Arbabsiar was approached and recruited by his cousin during a trip to Iran, according to federal documents.
Arbabsiar has said he was given “thousands of dollars” to find a drug dealer in Mexico willing to kidnap the Saudi ambassador in Washington and to undertake several other covert operations for payment.
On May 24, Arbabsiar traveled from Houston to Mexico where he met the DEA’s confidential source. During several meetings, Arbabsiar agreed to pay the confidential source to kill the ambassador.