Alleged Iranian terror plot draws sharp response from U.S.

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Authorities charged Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen with both Iranian and U.S. passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s special operations force, with involvement in the plot.

The front of the Saudi embassy. (Photo: Kris Van Cleave)

Both defendants are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to engage in foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries.

Arbabsiar is also charged with an additional count of foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

Shakuri remains at large while Arbabsiar was arrested on Sept. 29 at JFK International airport in New York City.

Officials say the main target of the plot was Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, who has served his post since 2007.

"The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia would like to express its appreciation to the responsible agencies of the United States government for preventing a criminal act from taking place," the Saudi embassy stated in a news release. "The attempted plot is a despicable violation of international norms, standards and conventions and is not in accord with the principles of humanity."

The other D.C. targets included the Saudi Arabian embassy, which is located at 601 New Hampshire Ave. NW and the Israeli embassy, which is at 3514 International Drive NW.

"I have been fully briefed and updated on this situation since July and am pleased to see the success of today's operation to keep our city safe," said Mayor Vincent Gray. "These threats are serious and citizens should know we are taking all appropriate measures to ensure their safety."

Iran has been listed as a state sponsor of terror by the United States since 1984.

“The investigation leading to today’s charges illustrates both the challenges and complexities of the international threat environment, and our increased ability today to bring together the intelligence and law enforcement resources necessary to better identify and disrupt those threats, regardless of their origin,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

READ the entire criminal complaint here:

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