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Two men have been charged in what law enforcement officials say was a bombing plot in the United States approved by senior members Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.

The plot targeted the Saudi ambassador to the United States for assassination and may have included other targets including the Israeli embassy, ABC News reports.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the plot’s details chilling, saying the suspects didn’t care that they could kill dozens of civilians along with their targets.

The principle conspirator, 56-year-old naturalized American citizen Manssor Arbabsiar (photo), repeatedly discussed the plot with what turned out to be a Drug Enforcement Agency informant. In conversations with the informant, who posed as a Mexican drug cartel representative, Arbabsiar mentioned bombing a restaurant where Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir often eats. He also discussed attacking the Saudi embassy.

The informant claimed to be tied to a cartel which “has engaged in numerous acts of violence, including assassinations and murders,” a criminal complaint said.

Arbabsiar and Quds Force member Gholam Shakuri are charged with conspiracies to murder a foreign official; to use a weapon of mass destruction; and to commit an act of international terrorism. Four men and $1.5 million were needed to carry out the plot, the informant claimed. Arbabsiar arranged for $100,000 to be wired to an account in New York in August and said the balance would be paid after the Al-Jubeir was killed.

Arbabsiar made it clear he didn’t care how the ambassador died, or how many innocent people died with him. “They want that guy done, if the hundred go with him, f*** ’em,” he allegedly said. When the informant said he could use a bomb or shoot the ambassador, Arbabsiar said “it doesn’t matter … whatever is easy for” you.

Arbabsiar was arrested Thursday at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, but Shakuri, a Quds force member, is at large. Arbabsiar allegedly confessed to law enforcement agents after his arrest, saying “he was recruited, funded and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force. He allegedly said these Iranian officials were aware of and approved of the use of [the informant] in connection with the plot; as well as payments to [the informant]; the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the United States and the casualties that would likely result.”

Arbabsiar’s cousin allegedly is a senior Quds Force official, the complaint said.


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Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, one of the world's largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups. Emerson and his staff frequently provide briefings to U.S. government and law enforcement agencies, members of Congress and congressional committees, and print and electronic media, both national and international. Since 9-11, Emerson has testified before and briefed Congress dozens of times on terrorist financing and operational networks of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest of the worldwide Islamic militant spectrum.

Emerson is the author or co-author of six books on terrorism and national security, including:

  • Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S. (Prometheus, 2006)
  • American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us (The Free Press, 2002)
  • Terrorist: The Inside Story of the Highest-Ranking Iraqi Terrorist Ever to Defect to the West (Villard Books /Random House, 1991)
  • The Fall of Pan Am 103: Inside the Lockerbie Investigation (Putnam's Sons, 1990)
  • Secret Warriors: Inside the Covert Military Operations of the Reagan Era (Putnam's Sons, 1988)
  • The American House of Saud: The Secret Petrodollar Connection (Franklin Watts, 1985)

He and his organization have been quoted or profiled in hundreds of newspaper and television stories since 9-11.

Emerson launched The Investigative Project on Terrorism in late 1995, following the broadcast of his documentary film, "Jihad in America," on public television. The film exposed clandestine operations of militant Islamic terrorist groups on American soil. For the film, Emerson received numerous awards including the George Polk Award for best television documentary, one of the most prestigious awards in journalism. He also received the top prize from the Investigative Reporters and Editors Organization (IRE) for best investigative report in both print and television for the documentary. The award from IRE was the fourth he had received from that group. The documentary, which was featured on 60 Minutes, has become standard viewing for federal law enforcement and intelligence organizations.

Emerson is recognized as one of the first terrorism experts to have testified and warned about the threat of Islamic militant networks operating in the United States and their connections worldwide. In a pioneering congressional testimony delivered in 1998, he specifically warned about the threat of Osama Bin Laden's network. Nearly every one of the terrorist suspects and groups first identified in his 1994 film have been indicted, convicted, or deported since 9-11.