All Our "Enemies" In One Fell Swoop

Nota Bene: Inspired by Quiet Bill’s work in the comment section I’m going to declare this an open/compilation thread for all the news about the Iran-NarcoCartel plot. So, keep adding links in the comment section and we’ll keep this thread close to the top of all posts.

October 14, 2011 Update:

Handful of stories on the Iran-narcocartel plot out today:

The Mexican Quds Dog and his Tail – by Col. Pat Lang. This one is a must read, especially in the context of a former intelligence pro.

Ignatius: CIA Is Involved with the Iran Plot, So It Must Be True! – by Emptywheel.

Framing Wikileaks for the inspiration of the plot – The Daily Beast. Man, this just keeps getting better. Not only does it now include Drug Cartels and Iranians but Wikileaks too! tEh awesome! Two questions: how the fuck do we link Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to this bad boy too? Hell, why not North Korea as well! As Donald Rumsfeld once said, “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

Excellent and thought-provoking analysis by Gareth Port: FBI Account of “Terror Plot” Suggests Sting Operation.

Finally, two stories out today reporting on Obama’s promise to punish Iran, here and here. This is really staggering in light of the utter collapse of the trustworthiness of the plot. And it brings to mind “cui bono” as in who benefits from the plot’s publicity, a la the questions from Col. Pat Lang:

The overwhelming likelihood is that this is someone’s “information operation” intended to condition public attitudes for some purpose. The over riding question is that of where the ovens are located in which this confection was baked and who the bakers might be.

Was it the Iranians as a subtle threat of serious action?

Was it the Israelis?

Was it some combination of “rogue” American entities?

More as it develops.

October 13, 2011 Update: Man, oh man is this plot beginning to fall apart. When my hometown paper reports on something like this you know the plot is a total joke.

Key graf from story at San Antonio Express-News:

Neighbors, however, said it had been years since Arbabsiar lived in the stucco house he once shared with his wife on a suburban cul-de-sac. They said it appeared as many as 10 people were living in the house, and lately there had been some signs of suspicious activity: When residents looked for available Wi-Fi networks, names like ”œFBI Van 1” would pop up.

ZOMG! Our FBI is so fucking inept. You have to be kidding me!

Iran’s leaders would not have approved alleged plot

Stratfor: The U.S.-Saudi Dilemma: Iran’s Reshaping of Persian Gulf Politics

Saudi’s Begins to Accept Persian Hegemony in the GME

David Ignatius: The Horseshit Whisperer

The Iran ”œPlot”: Hillary Tries to Involve the UN

Iran Alleged Assassination Plot: Emboldened by Nuke Program?

Ken “I’ve Never Been To Iran” Pollack writes: Iran’s Covert War Against the United States.

Foiled Iranian Terror Plot Not Adding Up?

Iranian Assassination – Narco-Cartel Plot Charged

The latest plot to scare the absolute bejesus out of Americans was announced at a press conference yesterday by AG Holder. And boy, it’s a doozy!

The United States on Tuesday accused Iranian officials of plotting to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in a bizarre scheme involving an Iranian-American used-car salesman who believed he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million.

It’s hard for me to take this seriously. Real hard. It reads far too much like a Tom Clancy novel. Why, it almost includes a renegade Cuban intel officer and chemical weapons! I’m just wondering where the Gaddafi dead-enders are in this? And maybe a Russian and rogue red-Chinese are?

Of course, the 9/11 plot literally stole ideas from Clancy, so it is possible, but what bothers me the most about this plot is a bit more prosaic: Americans are conditioned like Pavlov’s dog when it comes to “terror. It’s a recipe the US government has perfected. Just utter the word “terror” and Americans freak. Once they freak you can pretty much do whatever you want, up to and including marginalizing any questions, even the simplest: “why the fuck would Iran do that? What could Iran possibly gain by doing this?” So yeah, what in the world could Iran possibly gain from this? And what could the Zetas gain? Something like this actually happening would bring hellfire down on the Zetas and the Iranians have critical space to develop their nuclear breakout capacity right now so again: why would they fuck that up?

Anyway, Emptywheel has some good thoughts on this as well.

Addendum: More doubts from Max Fisher at The Atlantic.

And this Glenn Greenwald quote sums my thoughts up nicely as wel: “Nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like the accusation that they were behind this laughable, hapless, inept plot.”

Addendum 2: Gareth Porter in an email asks has more questions:

By the way where is the usual reference to Shi’a terrorists from Latin America associated with Hezbollah who are supposedly available to do
Iran’s bidding, as in the alleged Iranian plot to blow up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 (and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier)?

And Emptywheel has even more questions.

Update: Juan Cole has a theory that a rogue drug ring in Iran is behind this, to which Lex replies via email:

So Cole believes that Iranian intelligence is too smart to wire sums that would raise red flags, but organizations that regularly move billions of dollars worth of illegal product across international borders and manage to work the revenues from it into legal money streams are dumb enough to wire those sums?

Cole’s knowledge of the drug trade appears to exist in the plane between none and laughable.

Let’s not forget that the Zetas are being squeezed between a gulf cartel alliance and Mexican federal forces. They’re far from their strongest. Does that make them desperate enough? Maybe.

We know that the US has been running covert operations in Iran because we’ve seen the budget for it and heard the hints. Iran gets its opium from a country under US occupation, crawling with an intelligence agency that holds a 60+ year record of drug trade involvement. (If you don’t think the US is happy to see opium/heroin crossing into Iran as a destabilization tool, I’ve got a list of bridges you might like to purchase,) And now we have an Iranian terror plot linked to the Afghan/Iranian drug trade with a bonus play of Mexican cartels centering around a guy who’s happy to help the US and spill the beans.

This is all getting on silly. None of it even passes the smell test.

I’m inclined to agree. It’s all very silly. And I certainly don’t buy Martin Indyk’s nonsense here either.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

40 CommentsLeave a comment

  • When drama queen federal investigators with an inflated sense of danger! DANGER Buck Rogers! become so involved so early in the beginning stages of the plot, they have influence over who gets contacted (an informant in a Mexican drug cartel) for which services (in this case, C-4 explosives in a DC restaurant), and served up with the most scripted questions to get the most devastating incriminating evidence on a wiretap (in this case, hundreds of casualties were acceptable to the perpetrator: “f*ck ’em”). Deppity Dawg FBI guys read, and fantasize about, Tom Clancy and “24” episode scenarios. That’s the world they live in. Inside their heads, that is.

    I haven’t read what Emptywheel has to say, but it would make entirely too much sense if this were played up on a press/diplomatic/high levels of government sphere to influence the Saudi royal family and certain persons in the Israeli government. Mossad and its Saudi equivalent are doubtless too smart to be taken in, but the Saudi royals may well be hysterical about now.

  • I think everyone everywhere has bigger problems than ensuring the safety of a Saudi prince. A weak attempt by the US government to distract, nothing more.

  • Just utter the word “terror” and Americans freak.

    I’m not sure this is true any more. As you say, it’s a recipe the U.S. government has perfected, but it’s a recipe for media talking points, right wing blustering, and military-congressional-industrial fattening. I’d bet most Americans, albeit a small majority, are now cynical. The propaganda state declares as part of its propaganda that the overwhelming majority of good Americans agree with it. I’m inclined not to believe it, any more than I believe the nonsense of the content.

  • They’ve thoroughly mopped the floor with the Gulf/La Familia alliance (with help from the Federales) and are divvying up the country with Sinaloa pretty neatly.

  • watching these people play 87 dimensional chess to start a war that’ll never happen. They’ll be lucky if the entire military isn’t fighting rioters tooth and nail in every major US city within 5 years. War with Iran? Good luck with that…

  • Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot
    By Mark Hosenball and Tabassum Zakaria
    WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader and the shadowy Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, but hard evidence of that is scant, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

    The United States does not have solid information about “exactly how high it goes,” one official said.

    The Obama administration has publicly and directly blamed Iran’s government for seeking to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, and has warned Tehran it will face consequences. The accusation has heightened tensions in the volatile, oil-rich Gulf.

    Tehran has called the accusation a fabrication designed to sow discord in the region.

    The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates.

    They said it was “more than likely” that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani had prior knowledge or approved of the suspected plot. They insisted it was “not a rogue operation in any way,” and was sanctioned and directed by Quds Force operatives in Iran.

    But other parts of Iran’s factionalized government may not have known, they said. That included President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who “didn’t necessarily know about this,” one said.

    New details emerged about Manssor Arbabsiar, the Iranian-American and former Texas resident who is alleged to have tried to hire a Mexican drug cartel figure to assassinate al-Jubeir. That figure turned out to be a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant.

    Arbabsiar, the only suspect known to be arrested in connection with the alleged plot, went by “Jack” and moved to Iran about a year ago, according to news reports.

    Arbabsiar’s wife, Martha Guerrero, told KVUE TV station in Austin, Texas, he was innocent. “I may not be living with him, being separated, but I cannot for the life of me think that he would be capable of doing that,” she was quoted as saying.


    Several senior U.S. government officials acknowledged the alleged plot was unusual in its poor tradecraft — spy jargon for espionage skills and finesse.

    “We would expect to see the Quds Force cover their tracks more effectively,” said one official. Another said a plot to launch a violent attack inside the United States was “very outside the pattern” of recent Quds Force activities.

    Kenneth Katzman, an Iran specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said there were elements of the alleged plot that did not make sense.

    “The idea of using a Texas car salesman who is not really a Quds Force person himself, who has been in residence in the United States many years, that doesn’t add up,” Katzman said.

    “There could have been some contact on this with the Quds Force, but the idea that this was some sort of directed, vetted, fully thought-through plot, approved at high levels in Tehran leadership I think defies credulity,” he said.

    The U.S. officials said Quds Force operations until now had principally involved providing covert Iranian support to anti-American and anti-Israeli militants and insurgents in the Middle East and South Asia.

    But the officials also noted a history of antagonism between Iran’s theocratic Shi’ite government and Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy. That hostility manifested itself in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, a Saudi residential complex housing U.S. servicemen, in which U.S. officials say the Quds Force played a significant role.

    Officials said the poor tradecraft and loose talk by Arbabsiar left open a strong possibility that officials in Tehran believed the U.S. government would not necessarily view an attack on Saudi Arabia’s ambassador as an attack on the United States itself.


    Historically, Quds Force operatives have been active against U.S. interests overseas, including providing arms and other support to both Shi’ite and Sunni insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

    Iranian government operatives or militant groups supported by Iran, such as the Lebanese Shi’ite militia Hizbollah, have been implicated in attacks on U.S. and other Western targets, including bombings in the 1980s of the U.S. Embassy and a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died.

    After his arrest, Arbabsiar confessed that a cousin in Iran, whom U.S. officials identified as Abdul Reza Shahlai, was a senior Quds Force official, the indictment against him said. Federal authorities say that under their supervision after his arrest, Arbabsiar discussed the alleged assassination plot on the phone with Gholam Shakuri, whom one U.S. official identified as a Quds Force “case officer,” or agent handler.

    A U.S. official said Shahlai in the past had come to the attention of U.S. security officials responsible for monitoring Quds Force activities. Another official said that after his arrest, Arbabsiar identified photographs of two Quds Force operatives that had been provided by U.S. intelligence.

    U.S. officials said apart from their historical knowledge about how the Iranian leadership and Quds Force interact, they believed high-level Iranian government support for the plot was corroborated by the fact that Arbabsiar allegedly managed to arrange a $100,000 wire transfer to fund the plot.

    The money passed through at least one Asian financial haven, one official said, adding the Iranians were relatively sloppy in concealing the funds’ origin.

    (Editing by Peter Cooney)

  • I haven’t kept very close track of Mexico over the summer, but i got the impression before then that it was the opposite situation.

    Apologies, Agonistas.

    I’ll stand by the rest of it, and don’t see why any Mexican cartel would want that kind of heat. I can see why the USG might want to implicate a Mexican cartel though…

  • WaPo – On CBS’s “The Early Show,” the Arizona Republican faults President Barack Obama for failing to publicly embrace Iranian street protests in Tehran in 2009. McCain calls it “an opportunity that we lost.”

    McCain also says that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, in his words, “This kind of reckless behavior they’ve displayed here could translate into a real serious problem.” He says there can be little doubt that Iran is “trying to exert a Persian hegemony in the region.”

  • to Europe. Plans to visit London, Paris, Florence. She mentioned hesitating to make the trip because of fears over this Iran thingy. Meanwhile though, doesn’t seem to have heard that parts of London might be a bit dicey to venture into these days. Damn the corporate media here for being such liars, but a pox too on my fellow citizens for being so gullible. It’s a pity she doesn’t have any French because I suspect that if she did, a few conversations with locals in the cafes of Paris might be eye-opening. Oh well.

  • CNN – Justin Logan (Cato Institute)

    This announcement is an extraordinary shot in the arm to Washington’s Middle East hawks, who have seized on the alleged plot to press for further action against Iran. With the American people exhausted by the hawks’ projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and focused on the wrecked American economy, there had been little public attention to Iran in recent years.

  • Boston Globe – INDIANAPOLIS — Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday an Iranian-backed terror plot coordinated in Mexico proves the U.S. must secure its southern border, an attempt to shore up his standing among Republicans on immigration.

  • Nice, wich country has Iran invaded? (actually Irak invaded a few years ago)
    Meanwhile, US black-ops keep on operating inside Iran, blowing up or shooting whoever they want. And we hardly hear the Iranian complain,
    An eye for an eye they say.

  • nation for at least one hundred years, and I would venture to say close to 150. Now, invading a nation and enforcing hegemony are two different things, but the idea of Persian hegemony in the gulf is pretty laughable at this point. Has Stratfor not heard of this thing called a US aircraft carrier? Seriously?

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • October 13, 2011 8:08 AM
    Intel chair: “Chain” of Iran plots possible

    WASHINGTON – The alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was comically amateurish, but the U.S. government believes not only that it was approved at high levels in Tehran but also that it was not the only plot, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports.

    “There may be a chain of these things,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.

    Feinstein said there’s information that the Iranians may have other targets.

    “I think we need to explore whether there are other plots going on into other countries,” Feinstein said.

    The Obama administration has also rushed to take advantage of the plot to turn up the pressure on Iran.

    U.S. officials say the so-called soft pressure of sanctions against Iran, for its refusal to give up its nuclear ambitions, has increased tensions there. They hope that increases the chance that the Iranian middle class will force change from within.

    In public remarks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke Wednesday of a “dangerous escalation” of what the U.S. claims is an Iranian pattern of franchising terror abroad.

    “We call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security,” Clinton said.

    The next step is pressure on the United Nations Security Council for an international condemnation of Iran and pressure on China and Russia to stop doing business there.

    In addition, the United States could take such other steps as sanctions on Iran’s central bank and targeting the nation’s oil shipments, but those would only escalate the situation when nobody here is quite sure just how high the level of approval went in Iran.

    On Wednesday, further stranger-than-fiction details emerged of the alleged assassination gone wrong. U.S. officials said the foiled Iranian plot against the Saudi ambassador to Washington was “amateur hour,” an unusually clumsy operation for Iran’s elite foreign action unit, the Quds Force.

    The Iranians’ would-be covert operative turned to a woman he met while working as a used car dealer, hoping to find a Mexican drug dealer-assassin, and wound up with an American informant instead, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials.

    Other U.S. officials said Manssor Arbabsiar made further mistakes, including arranging a pay-off for the attack in an easily traceable way.

    They attributed the missteps to Iran’s relative inexperience carrying out covert operations in the United States and Mexico.

    They said the U.S. believes the planned attack on the Saudi ambassador was conceived in part as proof that such an operation could be carried off. Then, perhaps, Iran would have followed up with a series of attacks against other embassies in the U.S. and in Argentina, officials said.

    All of the officials requested anonymity in order to provide details from classified analyses and an active criminal case.

    Two men, including a member of Iran’s Quds Force special foreign actions unit, were charged in New York federal court Tuesday with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Justice Department officials say the men tried to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination with a bomb attack while Al-Jubeir dined at his favorite restaurant.

    U.S. officials believe Iran hoped that an attack of that design would be blamed on al Qaeda. That, in turn, would strike at two of Iran’s chief enemies: the U.S., constantly at odds with Iran over its nuclear aspirations, and Saudi Arabia, battling Iran in a diplomatic Cold War for influence across the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

    Saudi Arabia most recently helped thwart Shiite-majority demonstrators in Bahrain, whom Iran backed, and clashed again with Iran in Syria. Iran advised Syrian leaders on how to crack down on demonstrators, while Saudi Arabia has encouraged further protests and called for the Syrian government’s ouster.

    The Quds Force is tasked with extending Iranian influence through fear and violence, intimidating other countries with assassinations, terror attacks and kidnapping, the officials said.

    Such plots are managed by the Quds Force’s Special External Operations Unit, and carried out by sometimes unexpected proxies, like anti-Shiite Sunni extremists, the officials said.

    The unit answers directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who U.S. officials believe is briefed on high-profile operations. While the U.S. has no direct proof, and did not charge in court, that the top Iranian leaders approved this attack, any such operation would be vetted at the highest levels, one of the officials said.

    U.S. law enforcement officials said the criminal charges were limited to those actions they could prove in court, and did not cover all the information they had gathered about possible Quds Force goals or intentions. Even the roles of three of four Quds officers connected to this plot were not detailed in the criminal case but instead were laid out in economic sanctions imposed on them administratively by the Treasury.

    During an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton said the Obama administration is stepping cautiously and won’t overstate its case.

    The alleged plot “does give a lot of credibility to the concerns” about other Iranian activity, Clinton said in the interview Tuesday. “But we have to be careful, and we’ve tried to be very careful in this instance. What you’ll see in the complaint is what we know, what we can prove.”

    The U.S. blames the Quds Force for some of the worst terrorist acts against U.S. troops overseas, including the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia.

    More recently, the group has smuggled long-range rockets into Iraq for use by Shiite militant groups, including in an attack on Camp Victory outside Baghdad on June 6, that killed six U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials said.

    The Iranian group also plays a double game in Afghanistan, providing overt cash and economic aid to the Afghan president while funneling weapons such as long-range rockets to the Taliban, the officials said.

    Arbabsiar is a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who also had an Iranian passport. In May 2011, the criminal complaint says, he approached someone he believed to be a member of the vicious Mexican narco-terror group, Los Zetas, for help with an attack on a Saudi embassy.

    The man he approached turned out to be an informant for U.S. drug agents, who in return for leniency on drug charges against him had become a paid informant and had led U.S. agents to several drug seizures, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in New York.

    Arbabsiar was introduced to the informant by a woman he had met when he previously worked as a used car salesman in Corpus Christi, Texas, two law enforcement officials said. She was the informant’s aunt.

    The informant was not actually a member of Los Zetas but had worked with drug traffickers and was able to present himself as a Zeta to Arbabsiar.

    A more savvy operative might have been suspicious when the informant set up meetings in Reynosa, Mexico, the territory of a rival gang where a Zeta would not be welcome.

    The government charged that Arbabsiar had been told by his cousin Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking member of the Quds Force, to recruit a drug trafficker because drug gangs have a reputation for assassinations. The Zetas are known for the brutality of the beheadings, mass killings and grotesque mutilation of their victims.

    As the covertly recorded meetings between Arbabsiar and the informant continued, the plot eventually centered on targeting Al-Jubeir in his favorite restaurant, though the informant didn’t name any specific restaurant, officials said.

    There was also discussion between the two of possibly bombing other targets later, possibly including the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, two law enforcement officials said. But they emphasized that no plans were devised for such attacks, one reason this was not included in the criminal charge.

    When the Iranian agent transferred more than $100,000 in two batches to the informant, U.S. authorities decided to act, senior U.S. officials said.

    In addition to Arbabsiar, the criminal complaint named Gholam Shakuri, described as Shahlai’s deputy in the Quds Force who helped provide funding. Shahlai was identified by the Treasury Department in 2008, during George W. Bush’s administration, as a Quds deputy commander who planned a Jan. 20, 2007, attack in Karbala, Iraq, that killed five American soldiers and wounded three others.

    Arbabsiar, Shakuri and Shahlai and two others — Qasem Soleimani, a Quds commander who allegedly oversaw the plot, and Hamed Abdollahi, a senior Quds officer who helped coordinate — were put under economic sanctions Tuesday by the Treasury for their alleged involvement. The department described all except Arbabsiar as Quds officers.

    Read more:

  • …frequently Khamenei’s son who gets briefings from the Qods boys. Ambiguity about what the old man does or does not know is extremely useful.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • which has such a history of using inside provocateurs against the populist organizations of it’s own citizens, were itself being manipulated by covert operatives from Iran using their own tactics against them?

  • the Iraqis back across their border and then invaded? That’s self-defense. Or a double-standard because we do it all the time. Bad decisions make good stories.

  • Look to the history of the dispute over the Tunb Islands – 1971, not 1980.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • You said Iran hasn’t invaded another sovereign nation for 100 to 150 years. Fact is, they have. And that’s quite apart from multiple border incursions into Turkey and Pakistan and at least one into Azerbaijan over recent decades. Add unconventional warfare to that and the list gets even longer.

    But I guess that need for accuracy is too grey. Not all of us believe in simplistic narratives.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Maybe Obama should read what is being said by others. Scant evidence and intel gaps turn into surety by Obama.

    U.S. had ‘direct contact’ with Iran over plot, State Department says

    By the CNN Wire Staff
    updated 4:09 PM EST, Thu October 13, 2011

    Washington (CNN) — The United States has had “direct contact with Iran” about the alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States as the Obama administration ratchets up its rhetoric against the Islamic republic.

    State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland disclosed the contact at a news briefing Thursday. A senior administration official told CNN it occurred Wednesday and was initiated by the United States.

    Nuland said she could not say who spoke to whom or where the meeting was held. She said it was not in Iran.

    President Barack Obama weighed in on the alleged plot Thursday, saying it is “not just a dangerous escalation, this is part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior” by the Iranian government.

    Obama called it a sign that Iran has “been outside of accepted norms of international behavior for far too long” and said the United States will work with international partners and will take steps to ensure that Iran “pays a price.”

    Iran denies the allegation. A Tuesday letter from Iran’s permanent U.N. representative to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “outrage” over the allegation and said the country “strongly and categorically rejects these fabricated and baseless allegations, based on the suspicious claims by an individual. Any country could accuse other countries through fabrication of such stories. However, this would set dangerous precedents in the relations among States.”

    Speaking to reporters with visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Obama underscored a principle of international behavior: that diplomats are protected.

    “This plot was not simply directed at the United States of America. This was a plot that was directed against the Saudi ambassador. And I think that what you’re going to see is folks throughout the Middle East region questioning their ability to work effectively with Iran.”

    Even if Iran’s leaders did not have detailed operational knowledge of the alleged plot against the Saudi ambassador in the United States, “there has to be accountability with respect to anyone in the Iranian government” engaging in such an activity, Obama said.

    Iran must answer to the international community “why anyone in their government” would be engaging such activities, he said.

    “This is just one example of a series of steps that they’ve taken to create violence and to behave in a way that you don’t see other countries doing,” he said.

    Obama said Attorney General Eric Holder “laid out a very specific set of facts” and the United States would not have brought the case forward if it weren’t able to back up the allegations.

    “What we know is that an individual of Iranian-American descent was involved in a plot to assassinate the ambassador to the United States from Saudi Arabia,” Obama said. “And we also know that he had direct links, was paid by and directed by individuals in the Iranian government. Now, those facts are there for all to see.”

    He praised the “outstanding” U.S. intelligence work that helped thwart the alleged plot, which he said would also have killed innocent civilians.

    “We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment,” he said.

    Obama said the United States will prosecute the individuals named in the indictment and “continue to mobilize the international community to make sure that Iran is further and further isolated and that Iran pays the price for this kind of behavior.”

    Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations, wrote Ban that Iran condemns and has been a victim of terrorism, citing “the assassination of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years carried out by the Zionist regime and supported by the United States.”

    He called the U.S. move “politically motivated” and a “showcase of its long-standing animosity towards the Iranian nation.” The letter says Iran wants to have “friendly relations” with all countries in the region, “particularly with its Muslim neighbors.

    “The Iranian nation seeks a world free from terrorism and considers the current U.S. warmongering and propaganda machine against Iran as a threat not just against itself but to the peace and stability in the Persian Gulf region. The Islamic Republic of Iran warns against the implications of this horrible scenario and submits that the continuation of such divide-and-rule policies could have detrimental effects on peace and security.”

    There has been tension and rivalry between Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, and Saudi Arabia, which is predominantly Sunni.
    The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, wrote Ban on Tuesday about the “attempted plot” and said it “constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security.”

    “We have confirmed information that this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed by elements of the government of Iran. Had this terrorist plot not been disrupted, it would likely have resulted in the injury or death of the Saudi ambassador and others.”

    Rice said that information shows that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force and some of its “high-ranking officers,” including Hamed Abdollahi, Abdul Reza Shahlai and Ali Gholam Shakuri, directed and funded the conspiracy.”

    She said the United States intends to discuss the issue with other members of the U.N. Security Council.

    Details about the case surfaced Tuesday.

    Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are accused of conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, the FBI said.

    Arbabsiar was arrested in September. David Tomscha, a friend of Arbabsiar in Corpus Christi, Texas, said the man traveled to Iran once a year and owns property in Iran.

    Shakuri remains at large, the bureau said.

    The two were in a group that began planning last spring to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, the FBI said.

    It is unclear why the Saudi ambassador may have been targeted, the official said, or how widespread knowledge or approval of the alleged plot may have been within Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

    Robert Jordan, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said Al-Jubeir “is so close to King Abdullah that I think it does make him a target to some degree. He is almost like a son to the king.”

    The Saudi ambassador was not the only intended target, U.S. officials said. The suspects also discussed attacking the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington and possibly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a senior U.S. official said.

    Authorities developed the case against the suspects with the help of an undercover informant posing as an associate of a Mexican drug cartel, according to officials and an FBI agent’s affidavit released Tuesday.

    Arbabsiar and the informant allegedly discussed using explosives to kill the ambassador, possibly in a crowded restaurant, according to the affidavit.

    The informant named $1.5 million as his price, it said. Arbabsiar allegedly sent $100,000 intended as a down payment, telling the informant his “cousin” had deep pockets, court documents said.

  • …and what a sad, little, scared country full of gullible quislings we are…

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,or with both~FDouglas

  • “The One Percenters”, “The White Housers” etc., believe we’re all just a bunch of idiots eagerly swallowing the twisted fantasy tales they throw at us.

    Sexual inequality is “The Mother of all Inequalities”.
    Liberate female sexuality and you will eliminate racism, homophobia, financial greed, and violence.

  • If I were a Saudi royal, I’d be really worried about an assassination attempt right now . . . by an American black ops team who are acting with the full knowledge and consent of the President of the United States.

    “He deserves death.”
    “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

  • I give it five years max.
    Gulf War III: Iran

    You think domestic problems will stop America from committing to a totally wrong, illegal, economically disastrous war that it can’t ever win?

    Where have you been for the last 20 years?

    This is the start of the run-up. We have seen it all before. FOX, the NYT and the major networks will obligingly print reams of disinformation and hype, they’ll call in some schmuck Pentagon general fall-guy to make a speech to the UN based on fabricated intelligence, the Secretary of State will warn us not to wait for the next mushroom cloud, er, 9-11, before we attack, and voila – same shit, different day!

    Oh, I almost forgot – they’ll have WMD! There’ll be satellite photos of garbage cans on trailers to prove it!

    Like a said: five years, max. Let’s see how it shakes down.

    Especially with Obama channeling GWB the way he has been on this.

  • SPK’s point was that fears of a military *invasion* of another country by Iran are overblown based on its recent history. The issues you cite do not discredit SPK’s point. You are talking about covert operations, disruption, proxy actions and border skirmishes (the latter of which go both ways). SPK is not, to my mind, arguing that Iran is virtuous.

  • …I see an inability of the westerner to see things from the perspective of the folks in the region. Those military actions that I referred to loom large in the perceptions of the regional players that Iran seeks local hegemony. For you guys arguing about what scale of military intervention coinstitutes invasion and whether the US is somehow less virtuous has meaning. For them, it’s arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • at which the Gulf/La Familia alliance was really putting the hurt on the Zetas. Then the Feds did a huge series of raids that virtually decapitated La Familia and hurt Gulf bad. The Zetas got right off the ropes and came out swinging, hurting Gulf worse.
    They’re going to be confronting Sinaloa, its inevitable, but they’re not coming from a position of weakness. Their expansion into central America is giving them a lock on the whole Gulf Coast.
    Viva Santa Muerte.

  • different in content and tone than the other one. Had you put it this way before I would have largely agreed with you. At the same time, just as you say that local perceptions need to be addressed, the larger point that Iran has never ginned up a war on false pretenses, or invaded foreign countries with massive amounts of armor and other hardware needs to be acknowledged. Iran acts within the perception of its rather narrow regional vital and core interests. I’ve never disputed that. The larger point dancing around is that might engagement be a better option? After all, you negotiate with your enemies. I’m pretty sure a modus vivendi–and no, I am not saying a full on rapprochement–is possible.

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • …is where you needed to look to see something that didn’t fit your conception – that lack of fit should have caused pause for reflection and further investigation. If you don’t like the tone of the third comment, you shouldn’t leap to the assumption that differences that don’t seem large to you are rhetorically motivated quibbles.

    As to the rest of it, I think it’s largely irrelevant. Iran not having done those wicked things that the US has done – frankly the folks in the neighbourhood don’t care, at least not in terms of it affecting how they feel about Iran. I mean, they sure as hell don’t like you, but they aren’t looking at your wicked deeds and deciding somehow that they like Iran’s pretensions better because of it. I would argue that there’s quite a pronounced trend in Iran to be concerned with things well beyond their vital and core interests; the notion of manifest destiny is very pronounced – challenge for them is that absolutely everyone and their dog is balancing against them, except for maybe partially the Iraqis, and they’d much prefer to do it too, were they not riven.

    The big problem with engagement right now is that there’s no one in Iran with the heft to carry it off. Look at what happened to Ahmadinejad when he tried to accept the original deal around the 20% enriched uranium – Larijani bladed him to the hilt and gave it a real good twist. Similarly, Khamenei is finding out that the IRGC dragon that he’s been riding has some real interestingly independent ideas of it’s own. All in all, they’re fucked in terms of potential to make moves even towards normalizing relations – way too convenient for some of the players to poke the bear.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

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