News / Middle East

Alleged Iranian Plot Raises Questions About Possible Motive

Suspect Manssor Arbabsiar is shown in a courtroom sketch during an appearance in a Manhattan courtroom in New York, October 11, 2011.
Suspect Manssor Arbabsiar is shown in a courtroom sketch during an appearance in a Manhattan courtroom in New York, October 11, 2011.

The U.S. government's allegation that Iranian agents tried to hire Mexican drug runners to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador in a Washington restaurant has some Middle East experts puzzled over why Iran would carry out such an attack.

It allegedly is a murder-for-hire scheme targeting Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir. And U.S. officials say there also were plans to attack the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One suspect, Iranian American Mansour Arbabsiar, already has appeared in court to face charges.



U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a second suspect may be in Iran.

"In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions," said Holder.

Holder said the Iran-based suspect belongs to the Quds force, a part of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Quds force already is suspected of involvement in attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq, and aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Ali Reza Nader, a senior analyst with the Rand Corporation, said, "First of all the Iranian security services, including the Revolutionary Guards, like to work through proxies, so other groups, whether they are Hezbollah or Hamas or Shia insurgents in Iraq, or the Taliban in Afghanistan. They like to maintain some kind of plausible deniability, not necessarily be tied to spectacular terrorist plots."

Iran is widely suspected of involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. And it has assassinated dissidents abroad.

But Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said Iranian intelligence lately has avoided such brazen plots because of the international fallout.

"I’m not surprised it was the Quds force involved, if these allegations are true, because the people from the Ministry of Intelligence are really too bright and understand the world too well to agree to such a hare-brained scheme," said Clawson. "Whereas many of the people in the Quds force are really quite uninformed about the world outside of Iran and might have thought that they could have gotten away with such a thing, and that if they pulled it off that it would somehow help Iran."

He said if the allegations are proven, it will strengthen the case for sanctions against Iran, and will make it easier for Washington to convince other countries to take the Iranian threat seriously.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid