Saudi envoy murder plot suspect pleads not guilty

NEW YORK Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:43pm IST

Manssor Arbabsiar is shown in this 1993 Nueces County, Texas, Sheriff's Office photograph released to Reuters on October 12, 2011. REUTERS/Nueces County Sheriff's Office/Handout

Manssor Arbabsiar is shown in this 1993 Nueces County, Texas, Sheriff's Office photograph released to Reuters on October 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nueces County Sheriff's Office/Handout

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Iranian-American man who U.S. officials say has links to Iran's security forces pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday to plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington in a bomb attack.

Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, who was arrested on Sept. 29 in New York, faces several charges including conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

Another man, Gholam Shakuri, also was charged in the plot but is believed to still be in Iran. U.S. officials said he is a member of Iran's Quds Force, the covert operations arm of the country's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Arbabsiar will be back in Manhattan federal court on Dec. 21 for a status update hearing.

U.S. prosecutors accused the two men of planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, by planting a bomb in a Washington restaurant. The Iranian government denies any involvement.

But details such as Arbabsiar's bumbling nature and his trust of a U.S. federal informant impersonating a Mexican drug cartel figure, have raised questions among Iran specialists as to the seriousness of the plot.

The consensus view in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, probably knew of the alleged plot while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not.

Ahmadinejad has said Washington had fabricated the plot to cause a rift between Tehran and Saudi Arabia and dominate the oil-rich Gulf.

U.S. officials have said Arbabsiar has confessed to his role in the assassination plot.

During Monday's five-minute hearing, Judge John Keenan asked defense attorney Sabrina Shroff whether she planned to file court papers questioning whether Arbabsiar's alleged confession to authorities was made against his rights.

"Most certainly, your honor," Shroff said.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Bill Trott)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Canada Shooting

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

WHO says Ebola vaccine plans accelerating as trials advance.  Full Article 

Mideast Crisis

Mideast Crisis

Kurds reject Erdogan report of deal with Syrian rebels to aid besieged Kobani.  Full Article 

"Unilateral Diktat"

"Unilateral Diktat"

Putin accuses United States of damaging world order.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Chad says Nigeria deal with Boko Haram to free girls is still on.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Protesters in Hong Kong to vote on government proposals.  Full Article 

Mine-sweeping

Mine-sweeping

Japan could deploy minesweepers off S. Korea in war with North, U.S. admiral says.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage