Legal Flaws in US Complaint Against Iran


The US allegation of an Iranian government plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington is meritless as a matter of law, principally due to the egregious flaws and inexplicable discrepancies in the (amended) complaint in a federal court in Manhattan.

The complaint names two individuals, Arbabisar and Shakuri, as defendants, and charges them with multiple counts of violating the US laws to further their conspiracy on US soil.  Yet, despite all the mainstream US media parroting the charges and adopting them as facts (e.g., David Ignatius of the Washington Post has penned several articles vehemently defending the US allegations), there are both factual and legal reasons that cast serious credibility questions on the complaint and, in turn, raise the question of whether or not we are dealing with a “false flag” case cunningly pursued via a dubious terror story that centers on the hearsay statements of a convicted drug dealer-turned US informant and an Iranian-American used car dealer.

While a number of pundits have voiced their skepticism of the veracity of US allegations, there has been no serious scrutiny of the actual complaint that forms the basis of those allegations, exploited by the pro-Israel hawks for tough sanctions on Iran, if not outright war.  The most egregious flaws in the US complaint are as follows:

1.  The complaint alleges that Arbabisar has a “cousin” in Iran who is a member of Iran’s Qods Force and who gave money to Arbabisar, both directly as well as through Shakuri, for the specific purpose of killing the Saudi ambassador in Washington.  But, for a mysterious reason known only to the US government, the “cousin” is mentioned anonymously as “Iranian Official # 1) and, more important, is not even named as a defendant in the case, even though he is said to have plotted the kidnapping of the Saudi ambassador.

Anyone mildly familiar with the US justice system readily knows that it is highly odd that the US government does not bring charges against a particular individual alleged to have played a key role in a terror plot, this while another individual, Shakuri, allegedly residing in Iran is charged and an arrest warrant has been issued for him.

Even assuming that the US attorneys preparing this complaint have been sloppy and have missed a real target, an unlikely scenario given the high-profile status of the case, the other simple, yet significant, question as to why he is not mentioned by his full or even first name lingers.  The likely answer is that this individual is fictitious and does not exist, invoked in the complaint simply to bolster the US’s terror accusation against Iran.

2. Per the media reports, the US law enforcement officials alerted president Obama about this conspiracy “in June” and, yet, the complaint states that none of the initial meetings between Arbabisar and a US informer, posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel, was taped.  According to the complaint, the two met repeatedly in May and June 2011, none of which was tape-recorded, and only at the request of US law-enforcement agents did the informer bother to audiotape his conversation with Arbabisar on July 14th.

This is highly peculiar.  A serious terror plot involving an Iranian not taped?  Whoever would believe that the sophisticated US agents would be so sloppy and unmindful of collecting evidence that they would forget to tape-record or visual-record the alleged terror plot meetings?  This too lends itself to the suspicion that we are dealing with a fictitious rather than actual terror plot, hatched by the US to smear and intimidate Iran.

There are other, less important, contradictions and discrepancies in the complaint, such as the fact that, despite one week delay in contacting his accomplice in Iran, the latter does not even bother to raise questions about it (when Arbabisar after arrest places a call to Shakuri).  This is not to mention the difficulty of believing that the highly trained Qods officers would be so sloppy as to give so much discretion on a serious plot on US soil in the hands of a total amateur, including the latitude to decide on US civilian casualty, etc.  None of this is trustworthy, leading to one inevitable conclusion: the US has engaged in a sinister plot to incriminate Iran in the eyes of the international community, for whatever purpose.  That has fortunately backfired in the post-9/11 climate of suspicion about the US’s habit of instigating pretextual wars.  Still, a sincere apology to Iran by the “change-we-can-believe” US president is definitely called for, one that could pave the way to a real breakthrough in the US-Iran stalemate.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy and a co-author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11