Iranian terror plot in US foiled

posted at 2:32 pm on October 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The Department of Justice announced today that they have foiled an attempted terrorist attack — perhaps a wave of them — in the US.  This time, though, the plot didn’t originate with al-Qaeda, but instead with Iran:

FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C.

Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

The stunning allegations come against a backdrop of longstanding tensions between Iran and the United States and Saudi Arabia. In the last year, Saudi Arabia has attempted to build an anti-Iran alliance to push back against perceived aggression by Iran in the region.

If true, would that not be an act of war?  We’re presently using drones in Pakistan and Yemen against al-Qaeda terrorist networks for plotting similar attacks, thanks to the AUMF from October 2001, even though we’re nominally allied with both nations.  If the government of Iran plotted attacks on American targets, that should require a response from the US, should it not — or do we send a signal that even attacks from actual nation-states fall under the rubric of law enforcement?

So far, it looks like the latter:

Arbabsiar and a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, an Iranian official, were named in a five-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York. They were charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, among other counts.

The complaint also refers to another Iranian official but does not name him.

If we’re charging an official of the Iranian government with complicity or worse in this plot, then it ceases to be a law enforcement issue and becomes a military and political issue instead.  This isn’t a case of espionage but of sabotage or worse, which would be an act of war by anyone’s definition.  If we’re not willing to respond in kind, we then send a signal to hostile nation-states around the world that attacks on the US are low-risk, high-reward affairs — and we’d better get ready for an avalanche of them.

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Cynical me: Was this an attempt to make Holder the hero for the day and to deflect from his appearance before Congress?

onlineanalyst on October 11, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Oh, you shut your mouth! Eric Holder is just doing* *his* *job* (with a stamp of foot) to protect Americans Saudis from those nasty EyeRanians…..//

ted c on October 11, 2011 at 5:18 PM

I’m sure it will be a question at tonight’s debate tho.

HondaV65 on October 11, 2011 at 2:39 PM

No, the big media plan tonight at the debates is to ask why the Republicans are not speaking out in re to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Media dimwits all!

onlineanalyst on October 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Ding ding ding

cmsinaz on October 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Well it would be complicated to do anything. Remember… are not at war with Islam, you have never been at war with Islam and you will never ever ever go to war with Islam (pinky swear).

Iran is the current headquarters of Shia Islam. Remember when the Saudis (Sunni Islam Corporate Headquarters) took down your towers, you had to make up a story about a teeny tiny fringe group of religion hijackers to take heat off some Saudi brothers. You need to invent another teeny tiny fringe radical group who have hijacked sacred Shia Islam. Call them Al Teeny and then go off for ten years to some out of the way tactical and strategic sh*thole to win some hearts and minds off them.

[email protected] on October 11, 2011 at 5:29 PM

I wonder if Iran thinks Obama is weak enough that they can do this.

We ARE at war with them, right now.

They kill our troops in Iraq/Afghanistan with IEDs. They attack Israelis with Hezbollah and Hamas surrogates.

We are possibly helping to assassinate their nuclear scientists, (unless it’s just Israel) we helped make the Stuxnet virus among a host of other things (already underway when Obama took office). I’ll bet we may have been fomenting unrest among Iranian minority groups as well, at least during the Bush years.

A blatant political assassination in the U.S. is not in Iran’s interest unless they consider Obama weak enough to get away with it. One thing in Obama’s favor, he did catch Bin Laden in the middle of Pakistan with the risk of another Carter blowup haunting him.

The one thing the Iranians have going for them is Obama does almost everything opposite of the right way to do it. That’s why he left Iran alone during their protests, yet forced Mubarak out to allow Islamic extremists to rise to power etc.

scotash on October 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

I’m sure it will be a question at tonight’s debate tho.

HondaV65 on October 11, 2011 at 2:39 PM

“Gov. Perry, in light of the startling news today about the Obama Administration preventing a horrifying terrorist attack, and disrupting plans to have thousands of innocent civilians killed, and in concert with AG Holder breaking the trail of terror that led from Mexican drug gangs all the way back to Tehran, can you explain why you continued to lease the hunting property that is now infamous with the profane and hate mongering language painted on a rock?”

BobMbx on October 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

So does this officially elevate Ron Paul to SCoaMF status?

stefanite on October 11, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Yeah I’m sure the announcement today of a bust gone down a month ago has nothing to do with Issa’s subpoenas.

Shay on October 11, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Excellent news… Galid Shalit is to be freed after five years.

lexhamfox on October 11, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Cynical me: Was this an attempt to make Holder the hero for the day and to deflect from his appearance before Congress?

onlineanalyst on October 11, 2011 at 5:13 PM

That’s a Racist Assumption!


Del Dolemonte on October 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

he better be 1 step ahead of the Slippery Holder Injustice Truth Squad (S.H.I.T.S.)
NightmareOnKStreet on October 11, 2011 at 3:26 PM

That’s funny.

DRUDGE FLASH — Holder/Obama knew and were briefed about this foiled plot back in….wait for it…



LordMaximus on October 11, 2011 at 4:39 PM

When Holder started talking about the plot, my first thought was that they probably knew about it a while back. Saving the news for a time when they needed it.

Lightswitch on October 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Hillary on Fox News: there are steps we can take in concert with our allies to further isolate Iran.

slickwillie2001 on October 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM

Side note: the federal indictment charges Arbabsiar and Shakuri with plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction. By the definition referenced, from Title 18, we found tons of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003.

Seems a hand-handed attempt, overall.

J.E. Dyer on October 11, 2011 at 7:20 PM

I tell you it must be one HELL of a strong tail to wag that dog so fast, eh?

Siddhartha Vicious on October 11, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Someone else may have mentioned this already, but I further note that according to the indictment, Arbabsiar met with a “confidential source” of the DEA in Mexico, on a number of occasions, and used the source’s services to hire the source and his purported associates (from a drug cartel) to off the Saudi ambassador.

I don’t need to tell anyone here to wake up to the giant, gaping vulnerability that is our southern border. But Washington certainly needs to be hit in the head with a 2×4.

J.E. Dyer on October 11, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Seems a hand-handed attempt, overall.
J.E. Dyer on October 11, 2011 at 7:20 PM

It’s ham-handed, but I guess that’s offensive to muslims…

stefanite on October 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM

It’s ham-handed, but I guess that’s offensive to muslims…

stefanite on October 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM

No, that’s haram handed, then you gotta do a Wudu without touching your dodo, to be clean enough for some halal hand raping.

[email protected] on October 11, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Gun running?


angryed on October 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

First thing I thought of.

Dopenstrange on October 11, 2011 at 8:42 PM

This is so convenient; Obama sinking in the polls, Senate Democrats ripping his new stimulus plan, public confidence at new lows. Hey, how about a “wag the dog” distraction?

woodNfish on October 11, 2011 at 10:27 PM

What would Mohammed do?

Kjeil on October 11, 2011 at 10:33 PM

This has to be State Department, no one else would say something so naively inept:

“There’s a question of how high up did it go,” said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House thinking. “The Iranian government has a responsibility to explain that.”


One of them is a member of Quds and was plotting well-financed terrorist attacks in the United States. What exactly is there to explain? Hopefully the DoD, the CIA, and the White House are preparing a more forceful response than “explain yourselves.”

Lawdawg86 on October 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM

It crosses the mind that those two Iranian “warships” on their token power projection cruise in the Caribbean would be even less impressive than they already are when resting in pieces on the sea floor. But that’s probably not a productive response. Under a sane administration, one would hope serious discussions were taking place between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel over joint operations to finally and comprehensively materially deconstruct the Iranian nuclear weapons program. But then if this administration were sane, I don’t think the Iranians would’ve had the balls to try this in the first place.

Blacklake on October 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Blacklake on October 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM

My guess is that those warships were somehow connected to this plot in some way. Maybe in case we connected it to Iran and attacked, they thought maybe they could inflict some damage on us before we sunk the ships. Or maybe they were offering up the ships in order to get us to attack them which might invoke mutual protection treaties they have with other countries.

It sure looks to me like Iran is really trying to provoke an attack by us and I believe they have mutual protection agreements with both Russia and China. If we attack Iran, Russia is bound by treaty to treat it as an attack on Russia.

We are back to World War I all over again.

crosspatch on October 12, 2011 at 2:52 AM

IMO, the jury’s still out on what’s actually going on here. I’m unwilling to take this regime’s account of it without more scrutiny. This yesterday from Stratfor Global Intelligence:

The Department of Justice has indicated that the IRGC’s Quds Force was behind the plot. If this is the case, it is likely that a U.S. agency intercepted traffic or had human intelligence about the development of the plot and set up an undercover operation to disrupt it. The United States would not blame the IRGC without substantial evidence. However, this plot seems far-fetched considering the Iranian intelligence services’ usual methods of operation and the fact that its ramifications would involve substantial political risk.

Iran has been known to carry out preoperational surveillance in the United States, but it has not yet used this intelligence to carry out a high-profile attack. It seems unusual that the Iranians would approach a Mexican cartel to carry out the assassination when the Iranians probably have the capability themselves. However, it could be that Arbabsiar and Shakuri were acting on their own, or that something unusual is going on within the Iranian government. Regardless, because Arbabsiar’s contact in Mexico was a DEA undercover source posing as a member of a Mexican cartel, at this point the cartels have not been directly linked to the plot.

It is unclear what the Iranians would have to gain by killing the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and the implications of the plot’s being linked back to Iran are huge. That makes the links back to Iran, which so far are only based on Arbabsiar’s alleged confession, seem exaggerated.

petefrt on October 12, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Guess Holder gets an ‘Attaboy’ for this.

But it doesn’t erase that ‘Awsh**’ called Fast and Furious.

TimBuk3 on October 12, 2011 at 8:20 AM