A Texas car salesman man accused in a bomb plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States pleaded guilty Wednesday.
Manssor Arbabsiar was charged last October in a plot targeting Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir as well as other targets including the Israeli embassy. The indictment also charges Gholam Shukri, a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, which is accused of sanctioning the plot.
The Quds Force has helped wage several terror attacks worldwide in support of the Iranian regime's broader mission to export its Islamic revolution.
According to the plea agreement, Arbabsiar traveled several times to Mexico between May and September 2011 under direction from senior Quds Force officials in Iran. In Mexico, Arbabsiar met with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant posing as "a representative of a sophisticated and violent Latin American drug cartel that had access to military-grade weaponry."
Arbabsiar agreed to pay $1.5 million to the informant to carry out the assassination. He arranged for a $100,000 down-payment to be sent from Iran to the supposed cartel operative in two installments through a New York bank account. The transactions were approved by Quds Force members. Arbabsiar promised to pay the balance following the plot's execution.
Arbabsiar told the informant that he did not care about either the means of the attack or the number of people who died in the attack. "They want the guy done, if a hundred go with him, f*** 'em," he said. When the informant said he could use a bomb or shoot the ambassador, Arbabsiar responded "it doesn't matter … whatever is easy for you." In addition to bombing the Saudi embassy, Arbabsiar suggested targeting a restaurant frequented by the Saudi ambassador.
The case drew some early skepticism, especially the notion that Iran would entrust a Mexican drug cartel for such a brash terrorist attack in the United States, But in a Justice Department press release announcing the plea agreement, DEA administrator Michele M. Leonhart said the case shows that the "dangerous connection between drug trafficking and terrorism cannot be overstated, and this case is yet another example of DEA's unique role in identifying potentially deadly networks that wish to harm innocent Americans and our allies worldwide."
Iranian diplomats at the United Nations mission in New York have called the allegations against Arbabsiar "baseless." Arbabsiar faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in January.