[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
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.