The LWOT: U.S. accuses Iranians of assassination plot
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U.S. accuses Iranians of assassination plot
U.S. accuses Iranians of assassination plot
The U.S. Justice Department on October 11 accused Iranian American Manssor Arbabsiar and a member of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, of plotting with elements of the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir (AP, WSJ, Reuters, LAT, CNN, Post, Guardian, ABC, Post). According to the criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department, Arbabsiar, who was detained on September 29 at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, and Shakuri, who remains at large in Iran, hired a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informant posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out a bomb attack on Amb. al-Jubeir at one of his favorite restaurants in Washington D.C.
The Justice Department also levied sanctions against the two suspects, along with three senior officers – Abdul Reza Shahlai, Qasem Soleimani, and Hamed Abdollahi – of Iran’s Quds Force, a secretive unit of the country’s Revolutionary Guard that has been linked to terrorist operations in the past (Post, AP, NYT). U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said during his announcement of the disrupted plot that "the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions," while President Barack Obama called yesterday for the "toughest sanctions" to be brought against Iran, and Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that "nothing has been taken off the table" in terms of a possible U.S. response to the plot (Politico, NYT, ABC).
Iran has categorically rejected the charges, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast quoted as calling the alleged plot "a comedy show fabricated by America," and some former and senior U.S. security officials have admitted to reporters that the plot is "sloppy" in comparison with those carried out by the Quds Force in the past (Reuters, AP, AP, NYT, NYT, Guardian).
‘Underwear bomber’ pleads guilty
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty on October 12 to attempting to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear aboard an airliner destined for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009, calling the explosive device "a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims" (AP, NYT, Tel, Post, LAT, Reuters, Guardian). Abdulmutallab is scheduled to be sentenced in January, and his prosecutors say he could face a life sentence with no parole.
A federal jury on October 13 convicted Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi, and Hysen Sherifi of providing material support to terrorists for their roles in a plot to attack American military targets including the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA (AP). Yaghi and Sherifi were also convicted on counts of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks abroad, and the alleged ringleader of the plot, Daniel Boyd, and his two sons pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges earlier this year.
California resident Donny Mower pleaded guilty on October 7 to firebombing a Planned Parenthood and vandalizing a mosque in Madera County, CA, charges that could see him sentenced to five to 22 years in prison (AP). And prosecutors in the case of two Minnesota women accused of raising money for Somali militant group al-Shabaab have played over 80 hours of phone calls in which the women discuss supporting fighters in Somalia (AP). Jurors are provided with written translations of the Somali-language telephone conversations, which allegedly take place between the two defendants as well as leaders of al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Norwegian police said on October 13 that the self-confessed perpetrator of the July 22 Oslo bombing and shooting spree on the island of Utoya, Anders Behring Breivik, will leave solitary confinement by October 17 (CNN, AP, AFP). Police added that Breivik has alleged there are up to 80 cells in Europe that espouse ideologies similar to his (Reuters). And a Polish security agency on October 12 announced the arrest of 19 people suspected of producing explosive devices following the receipt of information from Breivik by Norwegian authorities (AP).
Secret memo provided legal justification for al-Awlaki killing
The Times’ Charlie Savage reported on October 8 that a secret U.S. Department of Justice memorandum detailed for the Obama administration the legal justification for killing American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike on September 30 (NYT). The memo was drafted in the summer of 2010 primarily by Justice Department lawyers David Barron and Martin Lederman, and argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target irrespective of laws against assassinations, the murder of Americans abroad, and laws of war applicable to the use of drones among others. Senators Dianna Feinstein (D-CA) and Carl Levin (D-MI) have both called for the release of the memo, but the administration has so far refrained (Post, CNN).
Trials and Tribulations
- The Associated Press reported on October 11 on the concerns of Muslim college students in New York about their privacy and rights, after an AP investigation into the New York Police Department’s alleged surveillance and monitoring of specific ethnic communities showed that investigators had infiltrated Muslim student groups around the city (AP).
- Saudi Arabia began the trial on October 10 of 85 militants accused of membership in an al-Qaeda-linked cell believed to have been responsible for the 2003 Riyadh attacks on three housing compounds for foreigners that killed 35 people (Reuters).
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