For decades, the U.S. has named the Iranian government the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism. Its aid to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban in Afghanistan, its support for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, and its bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina are evidence of the legitimacy of that designation. Now, adding to the list is a plot by Iranian authorities to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States on American soil.
U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials foiled a scheme, directed and approved by senior members of Iran's Quds [kuds] Force – a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubier, for $1.5 million. Two Iranian men –- Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized American citizen, who has been arrested, and Gholam Shakuri, a Quds force official still at large -- sought to hire Mexican illegal drug cartel members to murder Ambassador al-Jubier in Washington. The man they approached in Mexico, however, turned out to be an informant for the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Mr. Arbabsiar has confessed and provided "valuable information about elements of the Iranian government's role" in the plot. Both he and Shakuri have been charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the plot "a flagrant violation of international and U.S. law, and a dangerous escalation of the Iranian government's long-standing use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism":
"This is not just, however, about Iran and the United States or even just about Saudi Arabia. Targeting an ambassador violates the Convention on the Protection and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, which of course includes diplomats. Iran is a signatory to this convention. Iran is also in agreement with the Security Council resolutions to implement it. This kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system."
"Iran must be held accountable for its actions," said Secretary of State Clinton. "The United States has increased our sanctions on individuals within the Iranian government who are associated with this plot and Iran's support for terrorism. We will work closely with our international partners to increase Iran's isolation and the pressure on its government, and we call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security."