Adel-Al-Jubeir: Iranians charged in U.S. over plot to kill Saudi envoy

Then Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy Advisor Adel-Al-Jubeir gestures during a news conference in this June 18, 2004 file photo.

U.S. authorities broke up a plot by two men linked to the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said one of two men charged in the plot, both originally from Iran, had been arrested and had confessed.

The other man, who was still at large, was described in the criminal complaint as being a member of the elite Quds Force, which is part of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“High-up (Iranian) officials in those agencies … were responsible for this plot,” Holder told a news conference. “I think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the Iranian government attempted to do here,” he said.

The two men were charged in a U.S. court. Gholam Shakuri was described in the criminal complaint as a member of the Quds Force and is believed to be in Iran.

The arrested suspected was Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and holds an Iranian passport. He was

detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on September 29.

Arbabsiar made a brief appearance in a Manhattan courtroom where he was ordered detained and assigned a public defender. He appeared in blue jeans and a dress shirt. He had thinning gray hair and a scar on the left side of his face.

Iran swiftly rejected the allegation. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has rejected U.S. accusations of the country plotting to assassinate the Saudi envoy to Washington as a prefabricated scenario,” state English language Press TV said, without elaborating or giving a source.

U.S. officials said there had also been initial discussions about other alleged plots, including attacking the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, however no charges for that were revealed on Tuesday.

The United States slapped economic sanctions on five Iranians including four senior members of the Quds.

The target of the plot was Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, according to the criminal complaint. U.S. allied Saudi Arabia and Iran, both major oil exporting countries, are historic regional rivals that have struggled for dominance in the Gulf.

Relations were already sour between the Tehran and Washington, which accuses the Islamic republic of backing terrorism and pursuing nuclear arms, a charge Iran has denied.

Last month hopes were raised of improved ties when Iran released two U.S. hikers accused of spying when they were arrested on the Iran-Iraq border in 2009. Holder said there was no link between the hikers’ case and the alleged plot.

SAUDI AMBASSADOR

Officials said that the Saudi ambassador, Adel Al-Jubeir, was never in danger. President Barack Obama was briefed in June about the alleged plot and through a spokesman expressed gratitude for it being disrupted.

The assassination plot began to unfold in May 2011 when Arbabsiar approached an individual in Mexico to help, but that individual turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The confidential source, who was not identified, immediately tipped law enforcement agents, according to the criminal complaint. Arbabsiar paid $100,000 to the informant in July and August for the plot, a down payment on the $1.5 million requested.

Shakuri approved the plan to kill the ambassador during telephone conversations with Arbabsiar, the complaint said.

After Arbabsiar was arrested in New York, he allegedly confessed and provided U.S. authorities with more details about the Iranian government’s alleged involvement, Holder said.

The men are charged with one count of conspiracy to murder a foreign official, two counts of foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire and one count each of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

Authorities said no explosives were acquired for the plot and the weapon of mass destruction charge can range from a simple improvised device to a more significant weapon. They face up to life in prison if convicted.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.