Iranian Assassin Sentenced

Man involved in plot to kill Saudi ambassador gets 25 years

Manssor Arbabsiar (AP)

The Iranian-American man who attempted to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in a foiled terror plot was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday afternoon, the Drug Enforcement Agency announced.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a dual Iranian and American citizen, was arrested in September 2011 for his role in an Iranian-hatched plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States while he was in America. Arbabsiar was arrested as he tried to flee the country.

Arbabsiar was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom on one count of "murder-for-hire," one count of "conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire," and one count of "conspiracy to commit an action of terrorism," according to the DEA.

Arbabsiar was found to be enmeshed in a detailed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador with the help of Mexican drug cartels tied to Iranian elements.

"As DEA has repeatedly shown, terrorists often look to drug trafficking to finance their violent, deadly pursuits," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhar said in a statement following the decision.

"Our intelligence and operational capabilities and our vast network of informants across the globe enabled us to thwart this terror plot before it could materialize," Leonhar said. "As a result of DEA’s decisive action and the work of our partners, we are safer here and abroad, and Mr. Arbabsiar’s terror scheme will never become a reality."

Arbabsiar held both Iranian and American passports and was captured at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport attempting to flee the country.

The plot was viewed as a bold attempt by the Iranians to carry their terrorist operations to America in an unprecedented manner.

The trial brought to light Iran’s attempt to plot the attack via its elite Quds Force, which is a component of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Arbabsiar’s plot was foiled after he approached a DEA informant in Mexico about the terror plot.

"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," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

"And but for the vigilance of our FBI and DEA 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," she said.