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Entries in Ambassador (2)

Monday
Oct242011

Iranian-American Pleads Not Guilty in D.C. Assassination Plot

Nueces County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Manssor Arbabsiar, a Texas man accused of conspiring to kill the Saudi ambassador in a plot that U.S. authorities say was "conceived, sponsored and directed" in Iran, pleaded not guilty in a New York federal court Monday morning.

U.S. authorities say that Arbabsiar, 56, of Corpus Christi, Texas, plotted with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards to kill Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir with a bomb attack at a D.C. restaurant. Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American, attempted to hire hitmen from Mexico's Zetas drug cartel, say officials, but was actually speaking to a DEA informant.

Arbabsiar pleaded not guilty to five counts, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to murder a foreign official.

Gholam Shakuri, whom U.S. officials describe as a member of the Quds force, part of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, is also charged in the alleged plot, but remains at large. He is believed to be in Iran. Arbabsiar was arrested in New York on Sept. 29.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed on Oct. 11 that the DEA and FBI had disrupted a plot "conceived, sponsored and...directed from Iran" to murder al-Jubeir, which potentially would have been followed up by bombings of the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against five Iranians allegedly tied to the plot and additional sanctions against an airline company allegedly linked to the Quds force.

A lawyer for Arbabsiar did not return requests for comment, but the defendant's wife, Martha Guerrero, said he was wrongly accused.

"I may not be living with him being separated, but I cannot for the life of me think that he would be capable of doing that," she told ABC News' Austin affiliate KVUE, noting the two had been separated some time. "He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure of that."

Iranian officials have strongly rejected the U.S. accusations, calling them a "fabrication." The head of the Iranian mission to the United Nations penned a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing "outrage" at the allegations.

"The U.S. allegation is, obviously, a politically-motivated move and a showcase of its long-standing animosity towards the Iranian nation," the letter says.

The case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when Arbabsiar allegedly approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

Arbabsiar reportedly claimed he was being "directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government," including a cousin who was "a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform," according to a person briefed on the details of the case.

Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, expressed "utter disregard for collateral damage" in the planned bomb attacks in Washington, according to officials.

The complaint describes a conversation in which Arbabsiar was allegedly directing the informant to kill the Saudi ambassador and said the assassination could take place at a restaurant. When the informant feigned concern about Americans who also eat at the restaurant, Arbabsiar said he preferred if bystanders weren't killed but, "Sometimes, you know, you have no choice, is that right?"

U.S. officials said Arbabsiar met twice in July with the DEA informant in the northern Mexico city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, and negotiated a $1.5 million payment for the assassination of the Saudi ambassador. As a down payment, officials said Arbabsiar wired two payments of $49,960 on Aug. 1 and Aug. 9 to an FBI undercover bank account after he had returned to Iran.

Officials said Arbabsiar flew from Iran through Frankfurt, Germany, to Mexico City Sept. 29 for a final planning session, but was refused entry to Mexico and later put on a plane to New York, where he was arrested.

Officials said Arbabsiar is now cooperating with prosecutors and federal agents in New York.

"Though it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script, the impact would've been very real and many lives would've been lost," FBI Director Robert Mueller said of the foiled plot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Ambassador Susan Rice Tries to Sell Main Street on the United Nations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Friday night, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will deliver a speech in Portland, Oregon, the first in a series designed to sell Americans on the importance of the United Nations and American engagement with the world.

“Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems,” she’ll say, according to an advance copy of her remarks obtained by ABC News.

Rice’s comments come as the Obama administration is fighting Congress to maintain its foreign affairs budget in an era of budgetary pressure and concerns about the United States’ mounting debt.

On Thursday, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., challenged Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg about the utility of foreign aid.

“Borrowing more money from China in order to give it to other people in different countries is not something that I consider to be a positive option. It's crazy. It's insane,” he said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing.

While Rohrabacher’s remarks represent the view that America needs to address its own economic woes before sending money abroad, Rice will argue Friday night that it is imperative for the United States to engage with the rest of the world.

“In these tough economic times, we’re focused on getting our economy growing and providing jobs to Americans who’re hurting.  Yet even as we get our own house in order, we cannot afford to ignore problems beyond our borders,” she’ll say, citing the threat of nuclear proliferation, foreign conflict, terrorism, and disease.

“Main Street America needs the United Nations, and so do you and I, especially in these tough economic times. America can’t police every conflict, end every crisis, and shelter every refugee. The UN provides a real return on our tax dollars by bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places.  Because of the UN, the world doesn’t look to America to solve every problem alone,” Rice will say.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio