Two men, Manssoor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, were charged in New York’s Southern District with conspiracy: to murder a foreign official, to engage in foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire, to use a weapon of mass destruction, and to commit an international act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. The plot and its unraveling, announced jointly by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller, centered on a member of the Iranian special operations Qods Force, Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian citizen, conspiring with Arbabsiar, a 56-year old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both U.S. and Iranian passports, to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. Unbeknownst to Arbabsiar or Shakuri, their contact with the Mexican drug cartel was an undercover U.S. D.E.A. agent. The plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. unfolded from Spring 2011 until October 2011, with Gholam Shakuri and Arbabsiar going so far as to make a down payment to the undercover D.E.A. agent to the tune of $100,000 dollars for the assassination plot. The price for the assassination of the Saudi ambassador was $1.5 million, and the D.E.A. agent had originally requested half of the total sum. Arbabsiar was caught upon a layover flight at New York’s J.F.K. Airport after having been denied entry to Mexico on a rendevous with the undercover agent. In detailing discussions between the undercover agent and Arbabsiar regarding the number of casualties a bomb would cause, Arbabsiar expressed no concern over how many lives would be lost so long as the Saudi ambassador was killed. After being taken into custody at J.F.K., Arbabsiar agreed to work with the U.S. and confessed to the plot and his links to Gholam Shakuri, who remains, it is believed, in Iran. Iran’s Qods Force is one of the many branches of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. and specializes in operations abroad.

[U.S. Department of Justice]