Iranian-American held in assassination attempt

By Lara Fu, Advertising Manager


It has been 10 years since 9/11, but terrorist plots are still a threat to national security. After Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri allegedly planned an assassination attempt against Saudi Arabia’s U.S. ambassador, the U.S. government pressed charges against them Oct. 11.


Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American, was arrested Sept. 29 at JFK Airport, while Shakuri, an Iranian, has not been caught yet. The two men attempted to hire a U.S. Drug Enforcement agent, who was posing undercover as a Mexican drug cartel, to kill Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir, but the agent told U.S. authorities about the plot, according to an Oct. 12 USA Today article.


An Oct. 28 Huffington Post article reported that Arbabsiar and Shakuri planned to blow up a D.C. restaurant where Al-Jubeir often ate. They also planned to attack the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies in Argentina, but did not follow through with these plots.


According to an Oct. 21 Bloomberg Businessweek article, Iran’s Quds Force, the covert operations branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was planning to fund the $1.5 million plot to attack the ambassador and bomb the embassies. If the Iranian government was involved in this plot, it would mean that Iran was willing to commit an act of terrorism against the US, which would increase tension between the two countries.


“[This plot] affects world politics which affects us,” Human Geography teacher Doug Kraus said. “It’s a matter of geopolitics.”


Arbabsiar has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but if he is found guilty he could serve a life sentence in prison. Shakuri has not yet been captured, but if he is in Iran as reported, it is unlikely that U.S. authorities will be able to arrest him.


According to an Oct. 26 article from the American news website Newsmax, FBI officials initially doubted that the Iranian government was behind the plot because the plot was clumsily executed and different from the Quds Force’s usual operations. However, the FBI traced $100,000 intended for the assassination plot to a Quds Force bank account, leading them to believe that the Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani and the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were aware of the plot’s existence.


Iran has vehemently denied any ties to the assassination plot. According to an Oct. 30 Associated Press article, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a formal complaint to the U.S. about the accusations.


Reuters published an article Nov. 2 reporting that Khamenei has countered the accusations by claiming he has documents that would prove the U.S. has been involved in terrorist acts in Iran.

According to the Associated Press article, no trial date for U.S. v. Arbabsiar has been set yet, but Arbabsiar will appear in court Dec. 21.