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Corpus Christi man pleads guilty in plot to kill Saudi ambassador
Caller-Times ^ | October 17, 2012 | Staff

Posted on 10/17/2012 3:16:36 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch

NEW YORK — A Corpus Christi man pleaded guilty Wednesday to plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, agreeing to hire what he thought was a drug dealer in Mexico last year for $1.5 million to carry out the attack with explosives at a Washington restaurant.

Manssor Arbabsiar, 58, entered the plea to two conspiracy charges and a murder-for-hire count in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where Judge John F. Keenan repeatedly asked Arbabsiar whether he intended to kill the ambassador. Arbabsiar, a U.S. citizen who holds an Iranian passport, said he did.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 23, when Arbabsiar will face up to 25 years in prison. A trial had been scheduled for January.

President Barack Obama's administration has accused agents of the Iranian government of being involved in the plot.

At the plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim asked Arbabsiar if officials in the Iranian military were involved in the plot. Arbabsiar said they were.

Arbabsiar is naturalized U.S. citizen who went by “Jack" and owned Gyros & Kabob in Sunrise Mall, a Stop and Buy store and a used car lot on South Staples Street. All now are closed.

Former business associates and acquaintances at the time of Arbabsiar's arrest painted him as a lover of money, not religion or national ideology.

“He didn't do this for jihad, he didn't do this for Iran, he did it for money,” said Tom Hosseini, a Corpus Christi storekeeper who roomed with Arbabsiar in college.

Arbabsiar attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville in the 1980s and later opened several businesses in Corpus Christi. He moved to Iran in 2010, friends said, though it was not clear when he left Corpus Christi.

David Tomscha, a Flour Bluff man who said he owned the car lot with Arbabsiar about 10 years ago, said the Iranian was slick, but no mastermind. He was known for losing car titles, keys and being generally disorganized, Tomscha said.

“If he got involved, it was probably because of money,” Tomscha said Tuesday. “He wasn’t the brains of the operation.”

Arbabsiar said he went to Mexico last year to meet a man named Junior, "who turned out to be an FBI agent." He said that he and others had agreed to arrange the kidnapping of the ambassador, Adel Al-Jubeir, but Junior said it would be easier to kill the ambassador.

Arbabsiar has been held without bail since he was arrested Sept. 29, 2011 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He was brought into court Wednesday in handcuffs. He spoke English and did not use a translator, despite saying he understood only about half of what he read in English. Bearded and bespectacled, he smiled several times during the proceeding, including in the direction of courtroom artists who were seated in the jury box when he entered court.

Defense lawyers say Arbabsiar suffers from bipolar disorder.

Hosseini, who said on Wednesday that he has been approached by federal investigators several times since Arbabsian's arrest, was surprised to hear his friend had taken a plea deal.

"I don't believe it," he said, asking to be shown the news story.

But, as he read the details, he said Arbabsian's attorney's are correct to say the man has bi-polar disorder.

"He's crazy, sure," Hosseini said. "He's not (all) there."

He recounted numerous, sometimes humorous tales of Arbabsian's antics through the years: the time Hosseini's wife had to hustle Arbabsiar's passport to the airport because he did not think he needed it for an overseas trip; the time he walked into the wrong apartment, disrobed, and stepped into the shower to the horror of the woman already in it.

He said Arbabsian once brought a date a drink of water. In a dog's dish.

"He was not right in the mind," he said.

His imbalance may also have created what Hosseini termed Arbabsian's extreme bravery - to the point of foolhardiness.

"You could tell him 200 men are outside with guns and clubs, and he'd go charging in," he said. Such bravado, Hossein suggested, may have been what put his friend in chains.

"He had no fear," he said. "He didn't care about his life. I don't know why. Some people have that mentality."

But, the weight of the circumstances hit home up as Hosseini, himself in his middle years, did the math on what a quarter century behind bars could mean to someone Arbabsian's age.

"He's going to die in prison," Hosseini said.

Kim said that if the government had proceeded to trial, it would have presented a jury with secretly recorded conversations between Arbabsiar and a confidential source, along with Arbabsiar's extensive post-arrest statement to authorities and emails and financial records.

Authorities have said they secretly recorded conversations between Arbabsiar and an informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration after Arbabsiar approached the informant in Mexico and asked his knowledge of explosives for a plot to blow up the Saudi embassy in Washington. They said Arbabsiar later offered $1.5 million for the death of the ambassador.

Arbabsiar admitted Wednesday that he eventually made a $100,000 down payment wired from an overseas account through a Manhattan bank.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: Texas; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: aliens; iran; manssorarbabsiar; mexico; saudiarabia; texas; waronterror

1 posted on 10/17/2012 3:16:42 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch

What a misleading headline. The fact that he lives in Corpus Christi is the least important factoid about this wanna-be killer. I’ll have to give it a pass, however, because it appears in a Corpus Christi newspaper.

2 posted on 10/17/2012 3:26:23 PM PDT by AZLiberty (No tag today.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
He said Arbabsian once brought a date a drink of water. In a dog's dish.

I didn't know goats didn't like drinking from a dog's dish.

3 posted on 10/17/2012 4:05:16 PM PDT by Repeat Offender (Why do cops have more lenient ROEs when facing us than troops in combat facing suicidal islamists?)
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To: SwinneySwitch

the iranian trying to kill a saudi - sunni - ....

what a piece of shiite.

4 posted on 10/17/2012 6:32:25 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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