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Foiled plot increases Saudi-Iranian tension

Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, already high, received new strain Oct. 11 with allegations of a foiled plot linked with Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US and to commit other acts of terrorism.

A criminal complaint filed in the federal court in the Southern District of New York says Manssor Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American, and Gholam Shakuri, identified as one of his “Iranian-based coconspirators,” plotted to use explosives to kill the ambassador, Adel Al-Jubeir, possibly at a US restaurant.

The complaint says Shakuri is a member of the Iranian Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard that “conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations, and kidnappings and provides weapons and training to Iran’s terrorist and militant allies.”

According to the complaint, Arbabsiar arranged to hire an undercover agent posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel to conduct the assassination for $1.5 million. The complaint says Arbabsiar had discussed with the agent attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia. Arbabsiar allegedly told the agent that “his associates in Iran had discussed a number of violent missions” for the agent and his associates. The complaint indicates other possible targets included “foreign government facilities associated with Saudi Arabia and with another country” inside and outside the US.

Arbabsiar was arrested Sept. 29 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Shakuri remains at large.

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