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Entries in Terror Plot (3)

Thursday
Oct132011

Sen. Feinstein on Iranian Plot: ‘There May Be a Chain of These Things’

Feinstein [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Members of the Senate received a closed-door classified briefing Wednesday from the FBI, the NCTC, the CIA, State Department and Treasury on the Iranian terror plot divulged Tuesday.

Emerging from the nearly two-hour briefing , Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, speculated that, “There may be a chain of these things...It’s hard for me to believe that there is just one plot involving the United States.  I think we need to explore whether there are other plots going on... in other countries.”

On Tuesday, it was revealed that FBI and DEA agents disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C.  Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

On Wednesday, Feinstein said that intelligence indicates that there “may well be problems elsewhere” that need to be looked at.

She speculated that the Quds force of Iran would not have launched such a plot without the highest levels of approval from the country’s Revolutionary Guard and mostly likely from some higher elements of the government.  She said she did not know if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was involved.

“This is a very unusual thing,” she said.  “And because it’s unusual, because it’s Quds force, because it’s Revolutionary Guard, two agencies very high in the hierarchy in the Iranian government, you’ve got to think if they’re going after a Saudi ambassador here, what about a Saudi ambassador there or an Israeli ambassador there, or an American ambassador.  So I think we should all be alert to that.  But I am not saying there is a broader plot.”

From what she heard in the briefing, Feinstein said, she thinks there are already various responses taking place from the U.S. administration, including diplomatically and through the Department of the Treasury.

“I think the administration has moved very rapidly,” Feinstein said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

Boehner Urges Obama to Hold Iran Accountable for Assassination Plot

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of a disrupted Iranian plot to assassinate a top Saudi diplomat that top House Republicans are calling an “act of war,” House Speaker John Boehner says the Obama administration should respond by holding the Iranian government’s “feet to the fire,” although he declined to outline specific steps.

“This plot is a very serious breach of international behavior and I would hope that our administration would hold the Iranian government, and hold their feet to the fire over the actions that have been alleged in this complaint,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.  “I don’t think I need to be specific in terms of what the administration could or should do, but I’m hopeful that the administration will hold them accountable for their actions.”

After news broke of the alleged hit Tuesday, Rep. Pete King, the chairman of the House committee on Homeland Security, called the scheme an “act of war” and suggested the president should deport any Iranian government officials currently in the country.

“All options should be on the table for President Obama to respond forcefully to this grave provocation by Iran, and the president has my full support to act,” King, R-New York, stated.  “He should consider expelling Iranian officials, especially known intelligence officers, from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York, and the Iranian Interests Section in Washington.  Iran has not acted as a civilized nation.  This arrest shows that Iranian government officials are not here in our country to conduct diplomacy, but rather murder, mayhem, and acts of terror.  I believe they should be deported.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, condemned the plot as well, warning that the conspiracy is “dangerous new territory for Iran” and he said that the U.S. should assemble an international coalition to respond.

“This episode underscores the need for concerted international unity to confront Iran,” Rogers, R-Mich., stated.  “It is the latest in a series of aggressive actions -- from their nuclear program to state sponsorship of terrorism, from complicity in killing our soldiers in Iraq to now plotting hostile acts on U.S. soil.”

Boehner would not divulge whether the response should include a military element, but said that the plot demonstrates that the threat of terrorism is still prevalent and was only uncovered thanks to investments in the country’s intelligence agencies.

“The terror plot first shows all of us that the threat that we face has not gone away,” Boehner said.  “It also shows us that all of the investment that we’ve made and the efforts of our intelligence agencies, and counterintelligence agencies over the last 10 years, has been paying big dividends and continues to pay big dividends.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

Biden: 'Nothing Off the Table' After Iran DC Terror Plot

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that "nothing has been taken off the table" when it comes to the U.S. response to an alleged plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. and unleash deadly terrorist bombings in Washington, D.C.

"It is an outrageous act that the Iranians are going to have to be held accountable," Biden told ABC News' Good Morning America. "This is really over the top."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday the DEA and FBI had disrupted a plot "conceived, sponsored and... directed from Iran" to murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. in or outside a crowded Washington, D.C. restaurant which potentially would have been followed up by bombings of the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies. The U.S. said an Iranian-American, 56-year-old Manssor Arbabsiar of Corpus Christi, Texas, was working for elements of the Iranian government when he attempted to hire hitmen from the feared Zetas Mexican drug cartel to carry out the hit, but Arbabsiar was unwittingly speaking to a DEA informant from the start.

Senior Obama administration officials had previous told ABC News the U.S. response would not include the possibility of an armed conflict with Iran and -- though a complaint filed in federal court directly tied Iran's elite Quds military unit to the plot -- there was no information that Iran's top leaders were aware or had any role.

Biden said the U.S. was in the process of "uniting world opinion" against Iran as it goes forward with a response. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday sanctions against five Iranians allegedly tied to the plot.

A lawyer for Arbabsiar has not returned requests for comment, but the man'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 Tuesday 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 Islamic Republic of Iran categorically and in the strongest terms condemns this shameful allegation by the United States authorities and deplores it as a well-thought evil plot in line with their anti-Iranian policy to divert attention from the current economic and social problems at home and the popular revolutions and protests against United States long supported dictatorial regimes abroad."

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when Arbabsiar unwittingly 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 and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts. Shakuri is still at large in Iran, Holder said.

Holder identified Shakuri as an Iran-based member of the Quds force.

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, where the case has been transferred.

"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







ABC News Radio