Guilty plea in plot to kill Saudi Arabian ambassador to United States

Plan: To kill ambassador while he was in U.S.

WASHINGTON - Manssor Arbabsiar, aka Mansour Arbabsiar, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Southern District of New York to participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while the Ambassador was in the United States. 

Arbabsiar, a 58-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  

Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to a superseding information that charges him with three counts. 

Count one charges Arbabsiar with traveling in foreign commerce and using interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. Count two charges him with conspiring to do so.  Count three charges Arbabsiar with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, namely, an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. 

In connection with his guilty plea, Arbabsiar admitted that, from the spring of 2011 to the fall of 2011, he conspired with officials in the Iranian military who were based in Iran, to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador while the Ambassador was in the United States. 

Arbabsiar acknowledged that at the direction of these co-conspirators, he traveled to Mexico on several occasions during 2011 in order to arrange the assassination of the Ambassador.  Arbabsiar admitted that, with his co-conspirators’ approval, he had arranged to hire a DEA confidential source (CS-1), who claimed to be a representative of a drug cartel, and CS-1’s criminal associates, to murder the Ambassador. 

Arbabsiar further admitted that he agreed to pay $1.5 million to CS-1 and had discussed with CS-1 a plan to murder the Ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. -- a plan that was approved by Arbabsiar’s co-conspirators.  Arbabsiar then arranged for a $100,000 down payment, in two installments, to be wired to CS-1.

 

As noted in the complaint and indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court, the Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  The Qods Force conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.  In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force under Executive Order 13224for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

“A little more than a year after his arrest, Manssor Arbabsiar has admitted to his role in a deadly plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate a sitting foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Today’s plea and the disruption of this plot should serve as a reminder of the exceptional efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in protecting America against terrorist attacks and in holding accountable those who plan such actions.”

“The dangerous connection between drug trafficking and terrorism cannot be overstated, and this case is yet another example of DEA’s unique role in identifying potentially deadly networks that wish to harm innocent Americans and our allies worldwide,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart.  “Using DEA’s elaborate and sophisticated investigative expertise to infiltrate violent drug and terror organizations globally, we successfully identified this threat and worked closely with the FBI to prevent a potentially deadly outcome.” 

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, this international assassination plot hatched in Iran was thwarted before anyone was harmed and a key conspirator has pleaded guilty.  This case underscores the evolving threat environment we face and the need for continued vigilance at home and abroad,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: “As was originally charged, and as Arbabsiar has now admitted, he was the extended murderous hand of his co-conspirators, officials of the Iranian military based in Iran, who plotted to kill the Saudi Ambassador in the United States and were willing to kill as many bystanders as necessary to do so.   Arbabsiar traveled to and from the United States, Mexico and Iran and was in telephone contact with his Iranian confederates while he brokered an audacious plot.  The audacity of the plot should not cause doubt, but rather vigilance regarding others like Arbabsiar, who are enlisted as the violent emissaries of plotting foreign officials.  This office will continue to pursue the co-conspirators in this plot and others in Iran or elsewhere who try to export murder.  Thanks to the great work of the FBI, DEA and the prosecutors in this office, Mr. Arbabsiar must now answer for his conduct.” 

            According to the complaint and indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as the information to which Arbabsiar pleaded:

Arbabsiar met

WASHINGTON - Manssor Arbabsiar, aka Mansour Arbabsiar, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Southern District of New York to participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while the Ambassador was in the United States. 

Arbabsiar, a 58-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  

Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to a superseding information that charges him with three counts. 

Count one charges Arbabsiar with traveling in foreign commerce and using interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. Count two charges him with conspiring to do so.  Count three charges Arbabsiar with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, namely, an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. 

In connection with his guilty plea, Arbabsiar admitted that, from the spring of 2011 to the fall of 2011, he conspired with officials in the Iranian military who were based in Iran, to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador while the Ambassador was in the United States. 

Arbabsiar acknowledged that at the direction of these co-conspirators, he traveled to Mexico on several occasions during 2011 in order to arrange the assassination of the Ambassador.  Arbabsiar admitted that, with his co-conspirators’ approval, he had arranged to hire a DEA confidential source (CS-1), who claimed to be a representative of a drug cartel, and CS-1’s criminal associates, to murder the Ambassador. 

Arbabsiar further admitted that he agreed to pay $1.5 million to CS-1 and had discussed with CS-1 a plan to murder the Ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. -- a plan that was approved by Arbabsiar’s co-conspirators.  Arbabsiar then arranged for a $100,000 down payment, in two installments, to be wired to CS-1.

 

As noted in the complaint and indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court, the Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  The Qods Force conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq.  In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force under Executive Order 13224for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

“A little more than a year after his arrest, Manssor Arbabsiar has admitted to his role in a deadly plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate a sitting foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Today’s plea and the disruption of this plot should serve as a reminder of the exceptional efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in protecting America against terrorist attacks and in holding accountable those who plan such actions.”

“The dangerous connection between drug trafficking and terrorism cannot be overstated, and this case is yet another example of DEA’s unique role in identifying potentially deadly networks that wish to harm innocent Americans and our allies worldwide,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart.  “Using DEA’s elaborate and sophisticated investigative expertise to infiltrate violent drug and terror organizations globally, we successfully identified this threat and worked closely with the FBI to prevent a potentially deadly outcome.” 

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, this international assassination plot hatched in Iran was thwarted before anyone was harmed and a key conspirator has pleaded guilty.  This case underscores the evolving threat environment we face and the need for continued vigilance at home and abroad,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: “As was originally charged, and as Arbabsiar has now admitted, he was the extended murderous hand of his co-conspirators, officials of the Iranian military based in Iran, who plotted to kill the Saudi Ambassador in the United States and were willing to kill as many bystanders as necessary to do so.   Arbabsiar traveled to and from the United States, Mexico and Iran and was in telephone contact with his Iranian confederates while he brokered an audacious plot.  The audacity of the plot should not cause doubt, but rather vigilance regarding others like Arbabsiar, who are enlisted as the violent emissaries of plotting foreign officials.  This office will continue to pursue the co-conspirators in this plot and others in Iran or elsewhere who try to export murder.  Thanks to the great work of the FBI, DEA and the prosecutors in this office, Mr. Arbabsiar must now answer for his conduct.” 

            According to the complaint and indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as the information to which Arbabsiar pleaded:

Arbabsiar met

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