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The Iranian government directed, sponsored and coordinated a plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, top US law enforcement officials alleged Tuesday. According to the Justice Department, two men, Iranian American Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, and Iranian Gholam Shakuri, worked with members of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard on a plan to bomb the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC. Arabsiar is in US custody and has been charged in federal court in New York; Shakuri remains at large in Iran.
The elaborate "murder for hire" plot "reads like the pages of a Hollywood script," Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. The government believes the planning for the plot began this spring, when Arabsiar, who lives in Texas, met with a Drug Enforcement Administration informant in Mexico who was a member of a "violent international drug trafficking cartel," according to Mueller. Arbabsiar supposedly intended to gain the man's support to bomb the Saudi Embassy in Washington, and the informant requested $1.5 million to carry out the plot. Arbabsiar agreed and, according to the Justice Department, sent "two overseas wire transfers totaling approximately $100,000" to an "undercover FBI account."
Arbabsiar was denied entry into Mexico on September 28th and sent back to New York, where federal agents arrested him the next day. The FBI says that Arbabsiar admitted to the assassination plot during interrogation after waiving his Miranda rights. He claimed that his cousin is a "senior member" of the Iranian Quds Force, a unit of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, and that he recruited Arbabsiar while he was in Iran, intending for Arbabsiar to kidnap the Saudi Ambassador to the US.
Arbabsiar claims to have met with "senior" Iranian officials and the other man charged in the plot, Shakuri, during his time in Iran, according to the Justice Department. While he was in custody last week, Arbabsiar, at the "direction" of Federal Agents, called Shakuri, who was in Iran, and discussed the plot. Shakuri instructed Arbabsiar to go ahead with the plot: "[J]ust do it quickly, it's late..."