US allegedly foils hit on Saudi ambassador
Two men, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, have been charged with conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi Arabian diplomat Adel Al-Jubeir. The FBI has described Shakuri as a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds force. The plot also allegedly involved bombing attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington.
"The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law," said US Attorney General Eric Holder, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
"In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions," he said.
Shakuri remains at large while Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at New York's John F. Kennedy airport. He made an appearance in a Manhattan court on Tuesday.
Arbabsiar’s arrest came during a sting operation by the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. A holder of both US and Iranian passports, he is accused of being ready to pay $1.5 million for the murder of the Saudi ambassador. For the hit he allegedly turned to members of the Mexican drug cartel, who in fact were informants for the FBI.
Investigators also say Arbabsiar wired some $100,000 to an FBI undercover bank account as an advance for the assassination.
Iran has rejected claims by the US that Tehran was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, saying this was a "prefabricated scenario" designed to "turn public attention away from domestic problems within the United States."
In an open letter to the UN, written after the US accused Iran of plotting murder and terror acts on American territory, Iran’s UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee strongly and categorically denied all allegations, calling them fabricated and “based on the suspicious claims of an individual.”
“Any country could accuse other countries through fabrication of such stories,” the ambassador wrote to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stressing that “This would set dangerous precedents in relations among states.”
The ambassador condemned the politically-motivated allegations of terrorism, calling them “a showcase of animosity towards the Iranian nation.”
The letter also mentions that it is Iran that has been a victim of the terrorist tactics of the US-supported Israeli regime that does not hesitate to kill Iranian nuclear scientists on Iranian soil.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency described the accusations as “America's new propaganda scenario” against Iran.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, took the US claims seriously, thanking the US authorities for foiling the alleged attempt.
The US is already consulting its allies over the alleged assassination plot in a bid to press Europe to support new sanctions against Iran. The British government has been the first to discuss introducing new measures targeting Tehran.
British PM David Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field confirmed on Wednesday that London was in consultations with Washington about anti-Iranian sanctions but ruled out British involvement in any future military operation against Iran.
‘What is Iran's benefit from a crime like this?’
Something is amiss with Washington’s allegations, claims antiwar activist Brian Becker.
“I think that the US has climbed the escalation ladder, and whenever the escalation ladder is climbed, you ratchet up an attack against the other side; the other side then has to reciprocate,” he told RT. “I think we really need to question what is going on here. Is it really in the interest of Iran to carry out the assassination of this Saudi Arabian or Israeli ambassador in the heart of Washington at a time when the Iranian government knows the US is trying to find a pretext to escalate tensions with Iran?”
Becker declared that Iran would not benefit from a crime like this, as it would have brought Tehran closer to war with the largest military power in the world.
“The only beneficiaries are the Israeli regime and the United States government, which wants to ratchet up tensions against Iran,” concluded Becker.
Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer, believes there are many suspicious issues about the investigation.
“One of the biggest problems in the US is telling what the terrorist threat is in our country,” Scheuer told RT. “The FBI runs the sting operations and then claims great credit for breaking up a plot that would not have existed [had they not] lured someone into doing it.”
“My initial reaction was: If the Iranians want to kill a Saudi ambassador, why do it in the US?” said the former CIA intelligence officer, suggesting the incident could be used as an excuse to start a full-scale war with Iran.