Qods Force Terrorist Plot in US

by Maseh Zarif

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force—the organization overseeing Iran’s global terrorist activities and reporting directly to Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei—has been plotting a mass-casualty attack on American soil targeting Saudi Arabian interests. The Iranian officials involved in planning the attack include the commander of the Qods Force Qassem Soleimani and two deputies Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that authorities recently arrested one of the two perpetrators in the plot, U.S.-based dual Iranian-American citizen Manssor Arbabsiar, and that Arbabsiar admitted to receiving direction and funding from senior Qods Force officials in Iran. Following trips to Iran where he met Qods Force officials, Arbabsiar hired and paid an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency informant he thought was a Mexican drug cartel member to assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. Adel al Jubair. The initial target of the foiled plot was the ambassador, but the investigation indicates that the Qods Force-directed assassination attempt was one in a series of future planned attacks. U.S. officials involved in the case have cited the Israeli and Saudi Arabian embassies in Washington, D.C. and Buenos Aires, Argentina as future targets of the terror network.

The network behind the plot included: Arbabsiar; Arbabsiar’s Iran-based cousin who is an unnamed “high-ranking member” of the Qods Force; an Iran-based member of the Qods Force named Gholam Shakuri who served as the cousin’s deputy and one of Arbabsiar’s interlocutors in Iran; and a third unnamed high-ranking member of the Qods Force. The DOJ also noted that Shakuri told Arbabsiar “that an individual whom Arbabsiar understood to be the leader of the Qods Force…was aware of what Arbabsiar was doing.” Designations from the U.S. Treasury Department indicate that the unnamed officials cited in the criminal complaint include the head of the Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, who reports directly to Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei.

The Qods Force has repeatedly engaged in terrorist activities against American and allied officials, service members, and civilians. The significance of this plot cannot be overstated: the Iranian government is now attempting to carry out terrorist attacks on American soil. The initial target of the assassination plot was the Saudi ambassador, but the guidance given to the operatives would have resulted in a mass-casualty attack in a public restaurant in the nation’s capital with subsequent attacks in the future. Iran has been at war with the U.S. for decades; the regime, advancing on a path toward nuclear weapons, is now bringing that war to the American homeland.

For a timeline of the Qods Force plot, go here.

Cross-posted from AEI’s Iran Tracker.

(Getty images)