Suspect in Saudi envoy plot pleads not guilty


(JTA) — The Iranian-American man accused of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington pleaded not guilty in federal court.

Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, who lives in the Corpus Christi area in Texas, made his plea Monday in U.S. District Court in New York. He is facing charges including conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

Arabsiar was arrested last month, accused along with an Iranian man who is still at large, of a plot that involved a plan to hire members of the Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington. The thwarted plot reportedly also involved an attack on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires. 

The Iranian government has denied involvement in the plot. Arabsiar’s alleged co-conspirator, Gholam Shakuri, is said to be a member of Iran’s Quds Force, the covert operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

U.S. officials say Arbabsiar admitted to his part in the plot, but Arbabsiar says he was coerced into making the confession.

Recommended from JTA