The Foiled Plot to Assassinate the Saudi Ambassador In Washington: Exposing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force

Oct 17, 2011, 16:24 ET from Iran Policy Committee

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Friday, 14 October 2011, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) held a press conference at the National Press Club. The goal was to reveal the scope of operation and involvement of the Iranian regime's Qods Force in international terrorism, particularly as this deadly force was involved in a foiled plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir.

The United States filed a criminal complaint of 11 October 2011 in the Southern District of New York that charges Mansour Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

To discuss the role of the IRGC-QF as well as legal and political implications of the terrorist plot, the IPC invited: The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States, 2007-2009; Alireza Jafarzadeh, President of Strategic Policy Consulting and author of The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis; and Professor Raymond Tanter, President of the IPC and former senior member of the U.S. National Security Council staff, 1982-1983.

Jafarzadeh presented the structure of the IRGC-QF. His analysis demonstrated high-level involvement of senior Iranian leadership in the plot. Jafarzadeh stated that IRGC-QF Commander, Qasem Soleimani, "reports directly to the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his office." Treasury designated Soleimani on 11 October 2011 pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for coordinating aspects of the plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador and overseeing other Qods Force officials directly responsible for planning this operation.

"Decisions about terrorist operations are made at the highest levels of the Iranian regime and involve the senior officials who are overseen by Supreme Leader Khamenei," Jafarzadeh added.

With respect to the assassination plot, Attorney General Mukasey said, "If the current crime the Iranian regime apparently committed provides the occasion for anything, it should certainly provide an opportunity for delisting the MeK [Mujahedeen-e-Khalq from the State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations list] as a step toward recognizing that the policy of this country should be not engagement but regime change, and…continued listing is totally unjustified as a legal matter. There are no facts that justify maintaining MeK on the terrorist list."

Related to how high in the Iranian regime the assassination plot reached is whether the Islamic Republic acts directly or uses proxies. Professor Tanter, noted, "During June 1996, the IRGC used a proxy—Hezbollah of Saudi Arabia—to bomb a housing complex called Khobar Towers in which 19 American military personnel died. While initial reports focused on Hezbollah as if it were acting independently of the Iranian regime, former Director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, stated in a 2011 book by the Iran Policy Committee, Terror Tagging of an Iranian Dissident Organization, "…It became clear that although the attack was operationally performed by the Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia, the attack was organized, planned, funded, and executed by the IRGC [Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps]. They had gotten the passports for the operators. They had funded them with cash. The general in the IRGC, who was in charge of the project, sat in…the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, and gave them their passports."

Professor Tanter added, "FBI Director Freeh provides evidence that an American administration traded off prosecution of the IRGC for the goal of successfully engaging the Iranian regime, which is the epitome of the triumph of hope over experience. Despite that history, it appears as if the Obama administration has begun to take major steps against the IRGC-QF for its role in the assassination plot. In this respect, there is the political option of empowering the Iranian people and putting some meat on the bones of President Obama's attempt to reach out to them in 2009 with rhetoric. Doing so would mean to delist the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and other Iranian organizations like the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Such steps would get the regime's attention just as well as the option of sanctions against the central bank of Iran as well as the oil and energy sector."

SOURCE Iran Policy Committee