Manssor Arbabsiar (56) and Gholam Shakuri were charged on October 11 by the US Justice Department for an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.
Shakuri is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qods force, a foreign special operations element tasked with promoting the IRG's interests outside of Iran.
Once the FBI took Arbabsiar into custody, they had him make consensual telephone calls to Iran (source DOJ)
"Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to [Gholam] Shakuri [a member of Qods Force] in Iran that were monitored. During these phone calls, Shakuri allegedly confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, '[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late.' "
Because the Obama Administration is under fire for Operation Fast and Furious, some have floated the opinion that the Arbabsiar plot is a smokescreen by USGOV to obscure the Congressional investigation into the misconduct of Attorney General Eric Holder and possibly of President Obama, himself.
I have no idea whether this is a USGOV smokescreen to obscure their Operation Fast and Furious fiasco or not because I have no first hand information. However, on the stupid scale, isn't 'walking' 2,000 firearms to the Sinaloa Federation Drug Cartel just about as goofy as Iranians working with Los Zetas proxies to assassinate a Saudi Ambassador in the US?
If true, the Iranian tradecraft was sloppy and amateurish. They didn't vet their Mexican assassin adequately with a more benign move first (they rushed), etc. We can criticize their methodology. However just because it's stupid, doesn't mean that they didn't plot to do it. The truck bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center didn't bring a tower down. But Al Qaeda kept at it and eventually succeeded by smashing jet liners into it.
For me, it is not difficult to envision to Persian conspiracy as the operational norm for millenia. The only thing keeping the Islamic Republic from committing atrocities is their political calculus of the repercussions. With the Obama Administration's commitment to the Lloyd George school of diplomacy, what repercussions are there that matter? A harshly worded letter from Obama to the Iranian Supreme Leader and his toadies won't dent their armor or resolve.
The only place that I feel that I have room to comment with any degree of clarity is on the Mexican Cartels and on their methods of operations. I work with that every day. I’m continually frustrated by the way that law enforcement and others view the organizational structure of the cartels, because despite broad evidence, they cling to traditional organizational wire diagrams to demonstrate relationships. Los Zetas and every other cartel consists of separate actors, each with their own distribution network in the US. They are not monolithic organizations.
The only organizational model that I find applicable to the traditional cartels is that of a feudal society. When analysts view the Sinaloa Federation, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other cartels within a feudal framework, they come fare closer to understanding how things are organized than if they view them in another way. The Zetas are a 'franchise operation' but move in much the same way as the more traditional cartels.
I've heard commentators express disbelief that members affiliated with Los Zetas would blow up [Saudi Ambassador Adel] al-Jubeir (and potentially a hundred people nearby, explicitly including possible U.S. senators) having only been fronted $100,000 of the $1.5 million payoff, and holding Arbabsiar as collateral.
I don't have ANY problem with that part of the story at all. That part does make some sense, particularly if Qods was providing the explosives. Having a couple of Los Zetas drones embedded in a drug distribution network plant a bomb in a restaurant is an easy task. A chimp could be trained. They'd be paid pennies on the dollar and the prime actor, back in Mexico, would keep the bulk of the money.