U.S. officials on Tuesday said that they had foiled an elaborate terrorist plot backed by factions of the Iranian government aimed at assassinating the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
At a news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said two Iranians have been charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges.
One of the suspects, an Iranian with U.S. citizenship, was arrested in New York last month; the other, an Iranian, remains at large.
“The criminal complaint unsealed today exposes a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil with explosives,” Holder said in a statement. “Through the diligent and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we were able to disrupt this plot before anyone was harmed.”
The suspects were identified as Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old from Austin, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Quds Force, a paramilitary division of that country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Officials described the details of the plot as chilling, and alleged that Arbabsiar sought to meet with representatives of a Mexican drug cartel to arrange the killing of the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.
“It reads like pages from a Hollywood script,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller, but “the impact would have been very real.”