Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Iranians Charged in U.S. Over Assassination Plot

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. authorities broke up a plot by two men linked to the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington.
 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said one of two men charged in the plot, both originally from Iran, had been arrested and confessed.

The other, who was still at large, was described in the criminal complaint as being a member of the elite Quds Force, which is part of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"High-up (Iranian) officials in those agencies ... were responsible for this plot," Holder told a news conference. "I think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the Iranian government attempted to do here," he said.

Two men were charged in a U.S. court. Gholam Shakuri was described in the criminal complaint as a member of the Quds Force and is believed to be in Iran.

U.S. authorities arrested the other man, Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and holds an Iranian passport, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sept. 29.

The target of the plot was Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, according to the criminal complaint.

U.S. officials said there had also been initial discussions about other alleged plots, including attacking the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, however no charges for that were revealed on Tuesday.

Iran swiftly rejected the allegation. "The Islamic Republic of Iran has rejected U.S. accusations of the country plotting to assassinate the Saudi envoy to Washington as a prefabricated scenario," state English language Press TV said, without elaborating or giving a source.

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