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The U.S. F.B.I and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) today announced the disruption of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States (pictured below). One man was arrested on September 29, and has supposedly confessed to the details. Officials said that president Obama has been aware of the case since June. The investigation and arrest were disclosed today during a Justice Department press conference. FBI Director Robert Mueller said the plot was like the script for a Hollywood movie. "It illustrates that we live in a world where borders and boundaries are increasingly irrelevant," he added.
The suspect in custody is 56 year old Manssor Arbabsiar. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Another suspect, Gholam Shakuri, is still being sought. The plans for the assassination began in the spring.
According to investigators, the Iranians had contacts with a man they believed to be a sicario (hit man) for a Mexican drug cartel. The presumed sicario agreed to carry out the murder of the Saudi ambassador, possibly by using explosives. He demanded a $1.5 million USD fee, and Arbabsiar sent him $100,000 as a down payment. The hit man was actually an undercover DEA agent. The Iranians were interested in other similar attacks, including the assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the Untied States. Some of the meetings between the Iranians and the undercover agent occurred in Mexico.
Mexico's undersecretary for North American Affairs, Julián Ventura, told a press conference this afternoon that Arbabsiar tried to enter the country on September 28. He was turned away, because INM (Mexican immigration) officials were aware that a federal court in the United States had issued an arrest warrant for him. In accord with standard protocol, Arbabsiar was required to return directly to the United States. He did so and was arrested the next day at JFK International Airport in New York.
U.S. officials said Iranian involvement in the planned attacks constituted a "grave violation of U.S. and international law." Attorney General Eric Holder claims the alleged conspiracy was "conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran," and that top Iranian government officials were responsible for the plans. "The United States will hold these men fully responsible, and we hold Iran responsible as well," added Holder. He thanked the Mexican government for its cooperation and participation in the investigation.
Iran has been on the U.S. State Sponsored Terror list since 1984. In Teheran, a spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tersely dismissed the claims as "fabrication."