October 11, 2011

Breaking: Iran Terror Plot in US Thwarted
UPDATED: Could have killed US Senators

Wow, this is big. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world, but the Islamic Republic is usually smart enough to a) use proxies; b) only hit US interests overseas.

Would this be the first time Iran had sponsored a terror attack within the US itself? I'm racking my brain for the answer, but maybe one of you knows something that I'm forgetting.

ABC:

FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a "significant terrorist act in the United States" tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement today that the plan was "conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran" and called it a "flagrant" violation of U.S. and international law.

Expect updates....

UPDATE: More from the Blotter:

The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being "directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government," including a cousin who was "a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform," according to a person briefed on the details of the case. Counter-terrorism officials said they believe the cousin may be part of the special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds force.

Arbabsiar and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts. Shakuri is still at large in Iran, Holder said.

The complaint also refers to another Iranian official but does not name him.

Apparently Arbabsiar met with undercover DEA agents a DEA source in Mexico where he accepted an offer The Blotter story had it wrong, it was Arbasiar who offered the undercover agent, who he thought was a member of a drug cartel, to pay him $1.5 million to kill the Saudi ambassador. The FBI Arbabsier then wired the money to Arbabsiar a fictitious account run by the FBI as a down payment.

In other words, this was a sting -- but a sting in which an Iranian agent was trying to hire members of a drug cartel to kill the Saudi Ambassador.

Arbabsiar was also trying to work out a deal in which Iran would help the Mexican drug cartels by supplying them with Opium.

Bring down the Great Satan from within.

This is big, and should it pan out that Arbabsiar and the others were actually being directed by the Iranian government? Ed Morrissey is making the case that this is an act of war:

If we’re charging an official of the Iranian government with complicity or worse in this plot, then it ceases to be a law enforcement issue and becomes a military and political issue instead.
Expect more updates.

UPDATE: Here is the criminal complaint. I'm just reading it now.....thanks to David Gartenstein-Ross

UPDATE: I'm reading the complaint, and I see some of the early details above were wrong. I've tried to correct them above, but expect more updates.

UPDATE: Wow, so when they arrested Arbabsier he admitted everything. They have him on tape, prior to the arrest, saying that his cousin is a member of the Qods Force and that in Iran he met with two other Qods Force members who he was told were senior officers. One of them gives him the money for the assassination plot.

When he's arrested he fingers two senior Qods Force members from photos shown to him by the FBI. These photos, says the complaint, were not publicly available.

After he was arrested he then placed several monitored phone calls back to Iran in which he and Shakuri discuss the plot.

One thing, though, the complaint makes clear that the original plan was that the Iranians wanted the Mexican Drug Cartel to kidnap the Saudi Ambassador, but kill him if necessary. As the plot evolves, the DEA informant says that the easiest thing would be to kill the Saudi Ambassador at a restaurant that he visits at least twice a week.

It's at this point that he asks whether or not the Iranians would accept collateral damage? It's made clear that they would prefer just the Saudi Ambassador killed -- no others. But, if the only way to kill him was to blow up the restaurant and risk others being killed, so be it.

So, the plot seemed to evolve from one where the Iranians just wanted the Saudi Ambassador kidnapped, to one where he is assassinated, to one where they were willing to kill large numbers of people.

One interesting tidbit is that the DEA informant tells Arbabsiar that the restaurant that the Saudi Ambassador frequents is also frequented by U.S. Senators, but Arbabsiar says to go ahead and do it -- even if it means killing Senators.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:39 PM | Comments |