Arbabsiar gets 25 years for plot to kill Saudi ambassador

May 30, 2013 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- An Iranian-American was sentenced in federal court in New York Thursday to 25 years in prison for conspiring to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Manssor Arbabsiar, aka "Mansour Arbabsiar," 58, a naturalized U.S. citizen who formerly sold used cars in Corpus Christi, Texas, had been charged with plotting to hire assassins from a Mexican drug ring for $1.5 million to kill Saudi envoy Adel al-Jubeir.

"Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, Manssor Arbabsiar is today being held accountable for his role in this assassination plot," acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said in a release.

"I applaud all those responsible for ensuring that Arbabsiar and his co-conspirators in Iran's Quds Force failed in their efforts. Today's sentencing serves as a reminder of the evolving threat environment we face."

"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," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

"And but for the vigilance of our FBI and [Drug Enforcement Administration] partners, his plot, and the unspeakable harm it would have caused, may well have come to fruition, which is exactly why our commitment to using every resource we have to root out, prosecute and punish people like Arbabsiar, who act as emissaries for our enemies, remains unflagging."

Arbabsiar was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Sept. 29, 2011. He held both U.S. and Iranian passports. He pleaded guilty in October to three counts against him -- one count of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries and two charges of murder-for-hire -- before U.S. District Judge John F. Kennan, who also imposed the sentence Thursday.

Arbabsiar had arranged to wire a $100,000 down payment for the hit in two installments to a man who claimed to be a representative the drug cartel. Iranian leaders in 2011 denied any involvement in the assassination plot.

"I take responsibility for my actions," Arbabsiar told the court in October.

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