A Texas car salesman was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday for his involvement in a bomb plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The plot was sanctioned by senior members of Iran's deadly Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.
The Quds Force has helped wage several terror attacks worldwide in support of its broader mission to export Iran's Islamic Revolution.
Manssor Arbabsiar, a 58-year-old naturalized American citizen, had earlier confessed to his involvement in a plot targeting Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir as well as other targets, including the Israeli embassy. Arbabsiar, who held both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on September 29, 2011 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. He and a member of the Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, were subsequently charged in connection with the plot. Shakuri continues to remain at large.
"Manssor Arbabsiar was an enemy among us—the key conduit for, and facilitator of, a nefarious international plot concocted by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and as many innocent bystanders as necessary to get the job done," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said in a Department of Justice press release announcing the sentence.
Court records show Arbabsiar visited Mexico several times between May and September 2011 under direction from senior members of the Quds Force. During the visits, Arbabsiar met with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant who posed as a representative of a violent international drug trafficking cartel. Arbabsiar agreed to pay $1.5 million to the supposed cartel operative to assassinate the Saudi ambassador and arranged to have a $100,000 down payment wired to the operative from Iran in two installments through a New York bank account. He promised to pay the remainder amount following the plot's execution.
During a meeting with the informant, 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. Arbabsiar suggested targeting a restaurant frequented by the Saudi ambassador in addition to bombing the Saudi embassy.
In addition to the 25-year prison term, Arbabsiar has been ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $125,000.