Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Terrorist Plot Uncovered by the U.S.

Too bad that Ahmadinajad wasn't still visiting the U.N., making his annual revisionist history rant, where he could be confronted over this.

From  MSNBC.com, Reuters and the AP:

US: Iran faction plotted to kill Saudi ambassador

Saudi, Israeli embassies were also targeted, U.S. says; two men chargedNBC, msnbc.com and news service

updated 2 hours 7 minutes ago
Two men allegedly working for "factions of the Iranian government" have been charged with plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and to attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
The criminal complaint, unsealed Tuesday in federal court in New York City, identified the two as Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri.
Holder said Arbabsiar, who was arrested on Sept. 29 in New York, was working for the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard and had confessed to a plot.
Shakuri, who is based in Iran, remains at large, Holder said. He allegedly is a member of Iran's Quds Force, a special unit of the Revolutionary Guard.
Both are originally from Iran and Arbabsiar, 56, is a naturalized U.S. citizen, the complaint said.
The Obama administration will be "taking further action" against Iran as a result, Holder said.
Image: Saudi ambassador
Nicholas Kamm  /  AFP - Getty Images
Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir was the target of an alleged plot by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the U.S. said Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador is Adel al-Jubeir, who has served in that post since 2007.
The indictment is the result of a sting operation conducted by the FBI, Holder said.
The case started when Arbabsiar, who lived in Texas, allegedly made contact with an undercover DEA informant in Mexico and asked for assistance from the Zetas drug cartel to assassinate the ambassador by blowing up a restaurant that he frequented.
No explosives were actually placed, and no one was in any danger, officials said.
A Justice Department statement said Arbabsiar claimed he was being directed by his cousin in Iran, described as a "big general" in the Iranian military and within the Quds Force.
Arbabsiar allegedly wired $100,000 to the informant as a down payment on a $1.5 million assassination fee.
Other sources told ABC News that he reportedly told the informant that Iran could provide "tons of opium" to the Zetas.
Arbabsiar was to make a first court appearance later Tuesday. He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The Quds Force was designated a terrorist group by the United States in 2007, in part because of alleged support of the Taliban and other extremist groups.
A senior U.S. official told NBC News to look to Treasury and the State Department for the immediate response against Iran.
The official also said that U.S. intelligence has a "high-degree" of confidence that the "Quds Force at the highest levels" was involved in the alleged plot and that this was not some "rogue operation."
President Barack Obama was first briefed on the alleged plot in June, said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor."The disruption of this plot is a significant achievement by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the president is enormously grateful for their exceptional work in this instance and countless others," Vietor said.
NBC's Pete Williams and Jim Miklaszewski, as well as the Associated Press and Reuters, contributed to this report.


  1. I am becoming more questioning of the story as presented.

    Considering the story that US officials told the Saudis about this a few weeks ago, and thus presumably they would have told the Israelis at the same time … have you heard any outrage from those countries ? The big news in Israel is the prisoner swap … this story is not getting the headlines.

    It makes you wonder if this was really a case of entrapment/inducement … suggested reading is this story via PBS Frontline … which asks the question : What is the motivation for Iran to do this ? That does not mean that a rogue Iran Revolutionary Guard figure could not have pushed this … but not the leadership … especially with Iran just releasing the two American hikers.

  2. I think your point is well taken Mac, but I would point out to you that Iran has been behind other attacks on Israeli embassies before:


    and this attack in 1994

    Because of the fact that the terrorist attack was directed at the Saudi ambassador here, but the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Argentina, the allegation does make a certain sense. I think most of us were relatively unaware of those attacks in Argentina, but apparently Interpol still has arrest warrants active for those attacks.

    I question how official the origin of such an attack might be; it would be more plausible to me that if this is legit, it was from a faction, as an indication that Khameni's control is slipping.

    As to the Saudi's being a target - the muslim parts of the world are far from monolithic, so that doesn't entirely surprise me. It might represent a grab for the disaffected segment of Islamic countries, in the apparent vaccuum left by our assassination of bin Laden and other upper echelon leaders.

    It would also put a helluva crimp in our relationship with the Saudis if they pulled it off.

    I'm not sure if I would expect a foiled plot that includes the Saudis AND the Israelis as co-victims to get as much attention in either country. They do have more immediately active problems hogging the headlines on their respective front pages. Watergate didn't get much attention in the early days of it being discovered either, after all!

    But if this is a fake, it is going to blow back on someone pretty hard. IF that is the case, I guess we just sit down, pass the popcorn, and wait for the next act of this political theater!

  3. Yes, let’s grab the popcorn and watch.

    It looks to me like a combination of Curveball (who told CIA official Tyler Drumheller about Iraq's bioweapons program) and the ShoeBomber.

    I wonder if the motivation for Obama is to use the arrest to get additional support for sanctions (you know the adage : You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.) By going high profile on this, Obama is telling Iran “we’re watching”.

    BTW : did you see Herman Cain’s comment that Obama's Weakness Emboldened Iran to attempt an attack …

    Also, check out Juan Cole as he is also questioning how high-up this really is.

  4. I saw the post by Juan Cole, and generally have the greatest respect for his expertise - which is why we link to his blog here. I hope our readers will check out his take on this.

    Looks to me though like Obama has his ducks in a row on this; I'm sure he is well aware of how Bush left himself open for intense criticism by his use and abuse of bad intel. I just don't see Obama repeating that particular mistake.

    But lets get the popcorn popping and the party started, to watch this unfold!

  5. FYI : Juan Cole had another post on this ... and Gary Sick has weighed in ( link

    Although this may have moved off the front pages, the Iranians must consider how the NATO was successful in taking out Moammar Gaddafi, they may be doing some internal reviews.