Iranian Bomb Plotter Gets 25 Years in Prison

     MANHATTAN (CN) – An immigrant who plotted with a senior Iranian official, a Mexican drug cartel and an undercover informant to assassinate a Saudi ambassador was sentenced Thursday to 25 in federal prison.
     The 2011 indictment of Iran-born Mansour Arbabsiar documented his role in a surprising and elaborate terrorist conspiracy code-named “Chevrolet.”
     That year, a confidential informant posing as cartel associate told Arbabsiar that the Saudi ambassador was spotted in a popular restaurant in Washington, usually crowded with diplomats and members of Congress.
     Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen working as a used car salesman in Texas, wanted to go through with the assassination, even when warned that U.S. citizen bystanders would probably die alongside the ambassador.
     “Doesn’t matter how you do it,” Arbarbsiar said, according to the indictment. “I mean, if you do it by himself, kill is better, but sometime, you know, you have no choice, is that right?'”
     “They want that guy [the ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him, fuck ’em,” he added.
     Arbabsiar was up for sentencing Thursday after pleading guilty to the conspiracy in October 2012. His defense attorney Sabrina Schoff acknowledged, “There is no taking away from the seriousness of what Mr. Arbarbsiar said.”
     She claimed, however, that the plot was out of character for him, as a “good father and good son” who, for most of his life, “did nothing more than what most of us do.” She blamed his crime on in part on his alleged mental illness.
     Arbabsiar, now 58, struck the same notes as his lawyer in the remarks he delivered at the hearing.
     “I can’t change what I did,” he said, dressed in a navy prison jumpsuit. “I have a good heart. … My mind sometimes is not in a good place.”
     Unmoved, U.S. District Judge John Keenan said Arbabsiar’s diagnosis morphed on the road to sentencing from bipolar disorder to hypermanic episodes, when it became apparent that the former illness could not be linked to his actions.
     “He fully realized that this act would result in mass casualties,” the judge said.
     Keenan imposed the maximum possible sentence of 25 years, explaining that the term would send “the lesson that this conduct will not be tolerated.”
     Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara celebrated that an “enemy among us” had received a stiff sentence.
     “But for the vigilance of our FBI and DEA partners, his plot, and the unspeakable harm it would have caused, may well have come to fruition, which is exactly why our commitment to using every resource we have to root out, prosecute and punish people like Arbabsiar, who act as emissaries for our enemies, remains unflagging,” Bharara said.
     Arbabsiar’s alleged co-conspirator, Gholam Shakuri, believed to be a member of an Iranian covert unit called the Quds Force, has been charged but reportedly has not yet been apprehended.

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