An extraordinary terrorist plot has been foiled - which would have seen the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. murdered on American soil. Agents of the Iranian government reportedly offered $1.5 million to a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination of Adel Al-Jubeir in a busy Washington DC restaurant.
The terror plotters - who also planned to set off blasts at the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the city - told their Mexican contact they could provide 'tons of opium' to his gang. But their contact, to whom they allegedly wired a $100,000 down payment for the killing, was in fact an undercover U.S. informant.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the 'stranger than fiction' plot 'crosses a line' in Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism and will further isolate the Islamic republic.
Gholam Shakuri, whom authorities said was a member of the Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was also charged but is still at large. Arbabsiar allegedly offered the $1.5 million bounty to a Mexican drug cartel for help with the assassination. A third man named Abdul-Reza Shahlai is also accused of coordinating the alleged plot.
Mrs Clinton added: 'This really, in the minds of many diplomats and government officials, crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.' She said the plot was 'stranger than fiction'.
'The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder-for-hire to kill the Saudi ambassador, nobody could make that up, right?' she said.
Clinton said the scheme 'creates a potential for international reaction that will further isolate Iran, that will raise questions about what they're up to, not only in the United States and Mexico'. She said both she and President Barack Obama were calling world leaders to inform them of the developments.
'We are actively engaged in a very concerted diplomatic outreach to many capitals, to the UN in New York, to not only to explain what happened so we can try to pre-empt any efforts by Iran to be successful in what would be their denial and their efforts to try to deflect responsibility but so that we also enlist more countries in working together against what is becoming a clearer and clearer threat [from Iran],' Clinton said.
'We want to reassure our friends that the complaints against Iran are well-founded,' she added.