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.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement today that the plan was “conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran” by a faction of the government and called it a “flagrant” violation of U.S. and international law.
“The U.S. is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” Holder said. He said the White House will be meeting with federal agencies before announcing “further action” in regards to Iran.
Holder pushed the Iran issue hard in his announcement. It all seems very convenient, a kind of Legion of Doom of perceived US enemies rolled into one, attacking perceived US allies on US soil. And they throw in Buenos Aires for good measure, the site of a 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy, claimed by Hezbollah in concert with Iran.
Two Iranians who are dual citizens of Iran and the US — Manssor Arbabsiar, and Gholam Shakuri – have been charged in the case. The plot was broken up after Arbabsiar unwittingly hired a DEA informant to carry out the attack for $1.5 million. While Arbabsiar has been captured, Shakuri is still at large.
A couple other things here. One, this is yet another example of intelligence and law enforcement work disrupting a terrorist plot, assuming this all turns out to be true. Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan had nothing to do with disrupting this plot.
The second is that this also appears to be another example of US law enforcement agents sticking themselves into a plot and turning it from something aspirational to something more. We’ve seen this over and over again in the post-9/11 age, and I’m not sure it makes us safer to have DEA or FBI find and pump up low-lifes who had no ability to carry out attacks in the first place. Josh Marshall has more on this aspect.
I don’t know if the disruption of this plot makes America safer, but it sure does help out an argument about perceived enemies in Mexico and Iran.