Manssor Arbabsiar, an Iranian- American car salesman accused of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., told a federal judge in Manhattan that he will plead guilty.
Arbabsiar, who was scheduled to go on trial next year, appeared today before U.S. District Judge John Keenan. Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri were charged with conspiring to murder Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, according to prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Arbabsiar and Shakuri, who the U.S. said was a member of Iran’s Qods Force, were charged in a five-count indictment with plotting to hire a member of a Mexican drug cartel to killAl- Jubeir in the U.S. The person the two men approached to be their assassin was a U.S. informant, prosecutors said. Shakuri remains at large, prosecutors said.
When the case was first announced last October, Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. would hold Iran responsible for any terrorist actions tied to the plot, which he said was sponsored by the Iranian government. He called the conspiracy a “flagrant” violation of international law.
The U.S. State Department has described the Qods Force as an arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Other Qods Force members in Iran were involved and helped to bankroll the plot, which was to have cost $1.5 million, prosecutors said.
At Arbabsiar’s arraignment last year, Keenan said evidence the U.S. gathered against Arbabsiar included recordings of conversations made by investigators working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Some documents include an alleged admission of guilt, Keenan said at the time.
The case is U.S. v. Arbabsiar, 11-cr-00897, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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