Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 1 News List

US warns Tehran after foiling plot

AFP, Washington

The US warned it would hold Tehran accountable after foiling what it says was a high-level Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Washington.

In an explosive twist to a bitter face-off with the Islamic Republic, the US Department of Justice on Tuesday charged two men with conspiring with Iranian officials to blow up Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir.

The New York Times cited an unnamed law enforcement official as saying that the plot also included plans to pay a notorious Mexican drug cartel to bomb the Israeli embassy in Washington as well as the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Argentina.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said the “conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law.”

“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.

A criminal complaint named Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized US citizen holding Iranian and US passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Shakuri remains at large, while Arbabsiar was arrested on Sept. 29 at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport and appeared in court on Tuesday in Manhattan. His lawyer said he would plead not guilty, if charged.

The alleged attempt, dubbed a “Hollywood” scenario by one top US official, was broken open by a paid US source posing as a member of a “violent” Mexico-based drug cartel known for “numerous” assassinations and murders.

The defendants believed the cartel would provide explosives for an attack on the ambassador, according to the complaint.

Mexico said it cooperated closely with the US investigation.

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