Manssor Arbabsiar Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Court to Allegedly Plotting to Kill Saudi Ambassador

October 24, 2011
Manssor Arbabsiar
Manssor Arbabsiar

Fox News on October 24, 2011 released the following:

“Man Charged With Plotting to Kill Saudi Ambassador Pleads Not Guilty

A man charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States has pleaded not guilty in a New York City courtroom.

Manssor Arbabsiar, who did not speak during the proceeding, entered a not guilty plea on each of the five counts charged against him, which include conspiracy to murder a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

According to the Department of Justice, Arbabsiar — a naturalized US citizen who holds both Iranian and US passports — allegedly confessed to planning the assassination when he was arrested by federal agents at JFK International Airport in New York City on Sept. 29.

In court Monday, Arbabsiar, 56, was dressed in blue prison clothing and his gray beard had noticeably grown since his last court appearance earlier this month, the New York Post reports. At least one Saudi diplomat attended the hearing, but he declined to comment to the newspaper.

The arraignment lasted just five minutes. Arbabsiar’s next court appearance was scheduled for Dec. 31.

The other suspect in the case, Gholam Shakuri, remains at large, presumably in Iran. Shakuri is allegedly an Iran-based member of Iran’s Quds Force special operations unit.

Arbabsiar and Shakuri were each indicted last Thursday in connection with the $1.5 million assassination plot allegedly directed by elements of the Iranian government.

Arbabsiar allegedly contracted with men he believed were Mexican drug cartel associates to set off explosives at a public restaurant in Washington, D.C., where Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, was to be dining. The men turned out to be paid informants of the U.S. government.

A paid confidential informant told federal investigators that Arbabsiar said that it was “no big deal” when he was informed there could be as many as 150 casualties, including U.S. Senators known to frequent the establishment, as a result of the restaurant bombing.

Earlier this month, authorities in the U.S. and UK froze the assets of Iranian-based Quds Force members Qasem Soleimani, Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai for their alleged roles in the plot.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has called the assassination-for-hire accusations “baseless.””

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The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Alleged Iran plot may have violated UN treaty

October 13, 2011

The Jerusalem Post on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“By REUTERS

Treaty forbids attacking diplomats; US, Saudi Arabia can bring case before Security Council, International Criminal Court, Interpol.

An alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States may have violated a UN treaty protecting diplomats and could escalate the crisis to an international court.

US authorities have arrested Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar for the alleged plot and accused a second Iranian man, Gholam Shakuri, who is believed to be at large in Iran and a member of the country’s elite Quds Force.

If they were involved in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, that would likely violate the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons.

The treaty, which Iran signed in 1978, would require Tehran to consider prosecuting Shakuri in its court system or extradite him to a requesting country, potentially the United States or Saudi Arabia, both longtime foes.

An important sticking point to any prosecution or extradition is that Iran has fiercely denied the allegations and is unlikely to turn Shakuri over to any country.

“This is one of those areas where there’s not really too much fuzziness. It’s very clear that these kind of people (diplomats), these kind of officials, they’re immune from attack,” said David Kaye, executive director of the UCLA School of Law’s International Human Rights Law Program.

Jubeir was named Saudi ambassador to the United States in early 2007 after serving in the embassy in Washington. He is considered a close adviser to Saudi King Abdullah, a key US ally in the volatile and oil-rich Middle East region.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a point on Wednesday of noting that Iran had agreed to the UN treaty.

“This kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system. Iran must be held accountable for its actions,” she said.

Two options

The United States has two options if Iran officially rejects the case, including pursuing action at the UN Security Council. That was done when Libya refused to hand over two men accused of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The United States or Saudi Arabia could bring it to the United Nations and argue that “these are very obvious violations and for the Security Council to do nothing in light of this major attempted violation cheapens the words” of the treaty, Kaye said.

Another option, if there is a dispute under the UN treaty for protected persons, is that one side can seek an arbitration and ultimately a ruling from the Court of International Justice, located in the Netherlands.

“Basically it’s asking the court to interpret whether the convention has in fact been violated,” said Sean Murphy, a professor at George Washington University Law School who has argued several cases before the court.

After lengthy legal wrangling in the Lockerbie case and an eventual thawing of relations between Washington and Tripoli, the suspects in that case were handed over to a Scottish court that was convened in the Netherlands.

The United States could also turn the matter over to Interpol, the global police organization, which could order an international arrest warrant for Shakuri, thus making it difficult for him to travel outside of Iran, the experts said.

The legal proceedings against Arbabsiar will proceed in US District Court in New York where he will appear on Oct. 25 for a preliminary hearing.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Treasury imposes penalties linked to alleged plot

October 11, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on October 11, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it is imposing economic penalties against four people who are linked to an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Two of them have been charged in New York federal court. They are Manssor Arbashiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has both Iranian and American passorts, and Gholam Shakuri.

Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen says the financial transactions at the heart of the alleged plot “lay bare the risk that banks and other institutions face in doing business with Iran.””

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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2 arrested in alleged plot to kill ambassador

October 11, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on October 11, 2011 released the following:

“NEW YORK (AP) — Two people have been accused of conspiracy to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

A federal criminal complaint in New York says the two also are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

It says the ambassador was in the United States when the death plot was supposed to occur.

The suspects are identified as Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri.

According to a criminal complaint, Arbabsiar is a naturalized U.S. citizen who holds both a U.S. and an Iranian passport.”

Attached is Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri Amended Complaint.

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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