The US authorities said they have broken up a plot by two men linked to the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. One of the suspects, Mansour Arbabsiar, was arrested last month in New York, while the other, Gholam Shakuri, is in Iran.
The Saudi Arabian government said the plot to assassinate Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir was “a despicable violation of international norms, standards and conventions” [Reuters, 11 October].
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called the plot a “blatant violation” of international norms [Reuters, 11 October].
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected US accusations.
“These threadbare attitudes, which are based on the age-old and hostile American-Zionist policies, are a ridiculous show in line with certain scenario fabrication of divisive ends on the part of the enemies of Islam and the region,” Mehmanparast said [Press TV, 11 October].
US Attorney General Eric Holder pointed to IRGC and its Quds force. The Justice Department chief said one of the suspects named in the indictment, Gholam Shakuri, is a member of the Quds Force.
“High-up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible for this plot," Holder said. "I think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the Iranian government attempted to do here," he added.
According to the indictment, Arbabsiar said after his arrest in New York that he had been recruited and directed by men he understood were senior Quds Force officials. Arbabsiar, a 56-year old Iranian-American, apparently approached an individual in Mexico for help and paid him $100,000 as a down payment on the $1.5 million requested to execute the plot, but that individual turned out to be an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration [Reuters, 11 October].
The indictment also alleges that Shakuri approved the plan to kill the ambassador during telephone conversations with Arbabsiar.
The men are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official.
UPDATE: A senior IRGC commander, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, called US allegation of IRGC’s involvement in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington as “hilarious and baseless” [IRNA, 12 October].