The New York Times reports that the FBI has broken up an Iranian-backed plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel Al-Jubair, as well as bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, DC and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Iran says it’s all a fabrication. A Saudi official says Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations are likely to be ruptured. That sounds about right.
This certainly doesn’t do anything to convince that Iran isn’t playing a role in Shi’a-Sunni conflicts in the Gulf States. If Iran were concerned about Arab Shi’ites, it would back off its aggressive tactics against those states instead of giving the governments an easy excuse to avoid necessary reforms.
U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy
J. David Goodman
Federal authorities foiled a plot by men linked to the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States and to bomb the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a news conference on Tuesday.
The men accused of plotting the attacks were Manssor Arbab Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, according to court documents filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. The Justice Department said men are originally from Iran.
There is “no basis to believe that any other co-conspirators are present in the U.S.,” Mr. Holder said.
… Abdullah Alshamri, a Saudi official in Riyadh, predicted the disclosure would send Iranian-Saudi relations to “their lowest point yet.” Though no government steps had been taken, he suggested that a diplomatic row was inevitable.
“We’re expecting from our government a serious and tough reaction to give a message to the Iranians that enough is enough,” he said by telephone. “If we keep our diplomatic ties with the Iranians, they will think we are weak and they will keep trying to attack us.”
He said this was only the latest Iranian attempt to attack Saudi diplomats.
“This is their hobby,” he said. “Iran has no respect for international law.”
The criminal complaint filed by the FBI can be found at this link [21-page PDF].
UPDATE: Saudi media today (10/12/2001) appears to have not had time to assess the story. They are all running international wire service reports or modifications thereof. I expect that there will be substantive commentary put together over the weekend.