I-Team

Assassination target, suspect have Chicago ties

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A U.S. citizen and an Iranian government official are charged with plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

In Wednesday night's Intelligence Report: the American suspect and the Saudi target both have ties to Chicago.

Federal law enforcement officials say there was a $1.5 million bounty on the head of the Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir. U.S. officials say Iranian government officials were behind the planned attack and one of those charged is a member of Iran's Special Operation's Force. The other suspect has family connections to suburban Chicago.

"This is an outrage, that they would reach this far, this obviously into the United States," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, is being held without bail in New York City. Arbabsiar appeared in court late Tuesday afternoon, and is charged with conspiracy to kill a foreign official -- Saudi diplomat Adel Al-Jubeir. Apparently, the plan was to either blowing up the embassy building where he worked in Washington or killing him in a mass casualty incident at a Washington restaurant. The planned attack, U.S. officials say, was rooted in Iran.

"This is from a government that Secretary of State Clinton designated as a state sponsor of terror and is what I would think of as a very audacious, forward-leaning plan to attack the United States, its people and foreign embassies here in the nation's capital," said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

Al-Jubier has been a frequent visitor to Chicago. Just last year he attended an event to promote Saudi business development. He co-hosted the meeting with William Daley, who is now White House Chief of Staff.

Arbabsiar, the suspect in custody, was most recently living in south Texas. But public records reveal his name at several addresses in suburban South Holland, and that his ex-wife still lives in the Chicago area. He is charged with an Iranian citizen named Gholam Shakuri, who authorities said was a member of the nation's Quds Special Forces.

"We need to be heightening the sanctions on Iran and make it clear that this type of action will not be countenanced; look for every available means to let the Iranians know that this conduct is not only unacceptable but we will do everything we can to disable them through sanctions from any other further actions along these lines," Durbin said.

South Holland police say they have no record of Arbabsiar living there, and ABC7's I-Team has been unable able to reach his ex-wife who still lives in the suburbs, according to records. While authorities say no bombs were ever put in place, a $100,000 down-payment was wired from an overseas account. Arbabsiar was arrested September 29 at JFK Airport in New York. The other suspect is believed to be in Iran. He is a fugitive.

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