Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Iranian Military to Assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador

The Office of Public Affairs for the FBI's New York field office announced this morning that Manssor Arbabsiar, who was first arrested in September 2011, pleaded guilty to three counts associated with a plot to murder the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Manssor Arbabsiar, aka Mansour Arbabsiar, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Southern District of New York to participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while the Ambassador was in the United States. Arbabsiar, a 58-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on September 29, 2011, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. He pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan. 

Arbabsiar, a Texas used car salesman and naturalized U.S. citizen with an Iranian passport, was charged on the following counts, according to the FBI press release:

  1. Traveling in foreign commerce and using interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire
  2. Conspiring to commit count one
  3. Conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, namely, an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries 

 The assassination that was to be carried out by Arbabsiar is said to have been plotted with Iranian military officials.

In connection with his guilty plea, Arbabsiar admitted that, from the spring of 2011 to the fall of 2011, he conspired with officials in the Iranian military who were based in Iran to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador while the ambassador was in the United States. Arbabsiar acknowledged that at the direction of these co-conspirators, he traveled to Mexico on several occasions during 2011 in order to arrange the assassination of the ambassador. Arbabsiar admitted that, with his co-conspirators’ approval, he had arranged to hire a DEA confidential source (CS-1), who claimed to be a representative of a drug cartel, and CS-1’s criminal associates, to murder the ambassador. Arbabsiar further admitted that he agreed to pay $1.5 million to CS-1 and had discussed with CS-1 a plan to murder the ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.—a plan that was approved by Arbabsiar’s co-conspirators. Arbabsiar then arranged for a $100,000 down payment, in two installments, to be wired to CS-1. 

Arbabsiar is scheduled to be sentenced on January 23, 2013 and faces a maximum potential sentence of 25 years in prison.

Read the entire FBI press release here.


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