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Maximum Sentence Given in Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador
New York Law Journal
A man who pleaded guilty to plotting with Iranian intelligence operatives to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States by hiring Mexican drug cartel assassins to bomb a crowded Washington, D.C., restaurant was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday.
Manssor Arbabsiar, 58, an Iranian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, told Southern District of New York Judge John Keenan that he accepted responsibility for the plot while insisting he has "a good heart." Arbabsiar was caught on tape in 2011 responding to a statement from a confidential informant that there could be mass casualties, including the deaths of U.S. senators, from the bombing. "No problem," he answered. "No big deal."
His lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, asked the judge to sentence him to 10 years behind bars, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Kopp told the court that the 25-year maximum was warranted because Arbabsiar "worked for over six months to assassinate a foreign diplomat on American soil" and cause "mass carnage" in the process.
Keenan credited the FBI with "excellent work" in breaking open the plot that led back to the elite Iranian Quds force, a claim denied by the Iranian government. "In a case like this, deterrence is of supreme import," Keenan said. "Others who might have financial or political purposes in engaging in acts of violence against the United States or its interests, must learn the lesson that such conduct will not be tolerated."