Yesterday, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of an Iranian American citizen, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, as the central character in a plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador in Washington. Arbabsiar was the go between a member of the Al Quds division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and what he thought was a Mexican drug cartel which was to supply to assassins. However, Arbabsiar was actually dealing with an FBI informant and not the Mexican cartel. The plot was disrupted after the Al Quds member wired $1oo,ooo to a US bank account.
Immediately, independent national security and Iranian experts raised doubts about this plot being carried out by the Iranian government. First, Iranian intelligence services are highly professional and almost always use proxies so black ops can’t be traced back to the government. Second, any Iranian spy would know that transferring $100,000 as a ‘down payment’ for the assassination to a US bank account raises an immediate red flag. Third, using a drug cartel would again be counter to how Iran normally operates. Fourth, why on US soil?
However, according to Bloomberg:
After he was arrested, Arbabsiar agreed to phone Shakuri in Iran in calls that were monitored, the U.S. said in the criminal complaint. During the calls, Shakuri told Arbabsiar to move forward with the plot “as quickly as possible.”
Shakuri also told Arbabsiar during the call that he would consult with his superiors about whether they would be willing to pay additional money for the hit men.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged in regional rivalry with much animosity between them. But killing the Saudi Ambassador on US soil is not in Iran’s interest – or so it would seem.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government denounced the charges as fabrications made by the US. Ayatollah Khamenie charged ‘“the corrupted capitalist system shows no mercy to any nation, including the American people.”
UN Ambassador Rice is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the plot today. There is speculation among those who study Iran that the plot may have been set in motion by a rogue groups in Al Quds acting as a drug cartel within Iran.