An Iranian-American man pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a US federal court in New York City to plotting to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States.
Mansour Arbabsiar, 57, was accused of trying to hire assassins whom he thought were from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million to kill the ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, with explosives at a Washington restaurant. But Arbabsiar’s supposed cartel contact turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
“I take responsibility for my actions,” said Arbabsiar, a US citizen with an Iranian passport, as he entered the guilty plea to conspiracy and murder-for-hire charges. He also admitted that he agreed to help transfer more than $100,000 through a New York bank to help with the plot.
Arbabsiar, a former used car salesman from the state of Texas, said in court that Iranian military officials were also involved in the plot that initially called for kidnapping the ambassador, but changed into a plan to kill him. Iranian officials have said their government had no involvement in the assassination plot.
When Arbabsiar’s arrest was made public last year, US Attorney General Eric Holder accused the Iranian government of being behind the attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.
The acting head of the FBI’s New York office, Mary Galligan, said, “Not only did this plot threaten the ambassador’s life, the planned attack targeted our nation’s capital, where innocent lives would have been lost and the national psyche damaged,” The New York Times reported.
Arbabsiar’s defense lawyers said he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 23, 2013, and Arbabsiar could face up to 25 years in prison.