Agents from the FBI and DEA have collaborated to thwart a “significant terrorist act in the United States,” which included a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., Adel Al-Jubeir, as well as bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C., officials said today. One plotter now in custody, an Iranian-American, reportedly told a DEA informant that he was being “directed by high-ranking members of the Iranian government,” and was seeking help from a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the attacks. “This case illustrates that we live in a world where borders and boundaries are increasingly irrelevant,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller in a press conference this afternoon. “I know it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script. The impact would have been very real and many lives would have been lost.”
The DEA agent in Houston, Texas, turned to the FBI, who opened the case they called Operation Red Coalition in May. Today in a New York federal court, the agencies filed a five-count criminal complaint against the 56-year-old American citizen, Manssor Arbabsiar, and an Iranian official, Gohlam Shakuri, as well as a third unnamed Iranian. They were charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to kill a foreign official, and more.
The undercover DEA agent had agreed in Mexico to a $1.5 million payment with Arbabsiar for the assassination, and accepted a down payment through two wire transfers of $49,960 each in early August. Officials said Arbabsiar demonstrated “utter disregard for collateral damage” in the planned bombings.