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:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Obama's India Visit

Reuters Showcase

Obama's Message

Obama's Message

In parting shot, Obama prods India on religious freedom.  Full Article 

Armyman Killed

Armyman Killed

Indian army colonel killed in Kashmir fighting.  Full Article 

Uber in Delhi

Uber in Delhi

Uber scraps commissions for its New Delhi taxis.  Full Article 

Company Earnings

Company Earnings

Maruti promises clarity on cash plans.  Full Article 

Japan Hostages

Japan Hostages

Japan vows to work with Jordan to secure hostage release.  Full Article 

RK Laxman Dead

RK Laxman Dead

'Common Man' cartoonist RK Laxman dead at 93  Full Article 

India’s Male Tenor

India’s Male Tenor

India’s lone male tenor wants to ‘Indianise’ opera  Full Article 

Facebook Outage

Facebook Outage

Hacker group claims it is behind outages at Facebook, other sites  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

`Life-threatening' blizzard shuts down much of U.S. Northeast  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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