Iranian-American pleads guilty to Saudi Ambassador murder plot
A 58-year-old Iranian-American pleaded guilty on Wednesday for helping the Iranian military plot the assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador on U.S. soil.
Manssor Arbabsiar – also known as “Mansour Arbabsiar” – entered guilty pleas for all three counts, including conspiracy to commit terrorism. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. The sentencing date has been scheduled for Jan. 23, 2013.
Read more: U.S. foils Iranian assassination plot
Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, admitted to helping members of the Qods Force – a branch of the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps – plan the bombing of a restaurant frequented by the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, D.C.
“The audacity of the plot should not cause doubt, but rather vigilance regarding others like Arbabsian, who are enlisted as the violent emissaries of plotting foreign officials,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
According to federal prosecutors, Arbabsiar traveled to Mexico between May and July 2011 and met with an individual posing as a member of the Mexican drug cartel. Unbeknownst to Arbabsiar, the purported cartel member he hired was actually a confidential informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
When the confidential informant cautioned that bombing a restaurant would kill many innocent bystanders, Arbabsiar responded that the casualties would be “no big deal”.
Arbabsiar later agreed to pay $1.5 million for the confidential informant to carry out the assassination and wired a $100,000 down payment shortly before his arrest.
Arbabsiar told investigators that he was recruited by his cousin, who’s a senior member of the Qods Force, and that the group funded and directed the murder plot. The Qods Force has been linked to sponsoring attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
“He said these Iranian officials were aware of and approved the use of [the confidential informant]; as well as payment to [the confidential informant]; the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the United States and the casualties that will likely result,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
- Justice.gov: United States v. Manssor Arbabsiar superseding information – October 2012 (PDF)
- Justice.gov: Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Conspiring With Iranian Military Officials To Assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador To The United States
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. foils Iranian assassination plot