[QODLink]
Americas
Saudi envoy plot suspect pleads not guilty
Iranian-American man accused of being central figure in alleged plan to kill Saudi ambassador to US denies charges.
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2011 18:53
Prosecutors accuse two men of planning to assassinate Adel al-Jubeir, above, the Saudi ambassador to the US [AFP]

An Iranian-American accused of being the central figure in an alleged plot involving senior Iranian officials to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington has pleaded not guilty in a New York court.

Manssor Arbabsiar, who lived for years in the US state of Texas where he worked as a used car salesman, entered his plea on Monday during a five-minute hearing in a federal court.

Arbabsiar, 56, who was arrested on September 29 in New York, faces several charges including conspiracy to murder a
foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

Another man, Gholam Shakuri, who was also charged in the plot, is believed by US officials to be a member of Iran's Quds Force, the covert operations arm of the country's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Shakuri remains at large.

Tehran denial

US prosecutors accuse the two men of planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel
al-Jubeir, by planting a bomb in a restaurant in the capital.

Arbabsiar, a naturalised US citizen, was formally indicted on October 20.

Tehran has strongly denied any involvement in the plot in which the US says the Quds force plotted to kill the Saudi envoy by hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5m.

The case has increased tensions between Tehran and Washington, with US President Barack Obama demanding answers and "accountability" from Iran.

According to the indictment, Arbabsiar and Shakuri conspired to "kill the ambassador to the United States of Saudi Arabia, while the ambassador was in the United States".

To set up the alleged hit, Arbabsiar arranged for the wiring of $100,000 to the United States as a down payment, according to the indictment.

Details, such as Arbabsiar's reportedly bumbling nature, and his trust of a US federal informant impersonating a Mexican drug cartel figure, have raised eyebrows among Iran specialists as to the seriousness of the plot.

The consensus view in Obama's administration, according to news agencies, is that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, probably knew of the alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador, while iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not.

Ahmadinejad has said Washington fabricated the plot to cause a rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.