Gareth Porter writes: At a press conference on October 11, the Obama administration unveiled a spectacular charge against the government of Iran: The Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, right in Washington, DC, in a place where large numbers of innocent bystanders could have been killed. High-level officials of the Qods Force were said to be involved, the only question being how far up in the Iranian government the complicity went.
The US tale of the Iranian plot was greeted with unusual skepticism on the part of Iran specialists and independent policy analysts, and even elements of the mainstream media. The critics observed that the alleged assassination scheme was not in Iran’s interest, and that it bore scant resemblance to past operations attributed to the foreign special operations branch of Iranian intelligence. The Qods Force, it was widely believed, would not send a person like Iranian-American used car dealer Manssor Arbabsiar, known to friends in Corpus Christi, Texas as forgetful and disorganized, to hire the hit squad for such a sensitive covert action.
But administration officials claimed they had hard evidence to back up the charge. They cited a 21-page deposition by a supervising FBI agent in the “amended criminal complaint” filed against Arbabsiar and an accomplice who remains at large, Gholam Shakuri.  It was all there, the officials insisted: several meetings between Arbabsiar and a man he thought was a member of a leading Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas, with a reputation for cold-blooded killing; incriminating statements, all secretly recorded, by Arbabsiar and Shakuri, his alleged handler in Tehran; and finally, Arbabsiar’s confession after his arrest, which clearly implicates Qods Force agents in a plan to murder a foreign diplomat on US soil.
A close analysis of the FBI deposition reveals, however, that independent evidence for the charge that Arbabsiar was sent by the Qods Force on a mission to arrange for the assassination of Jubeir is lacking. The FBI account is full of holes and contradictions, moreover. The document gives good reason to doubt that Arbabsiar and his confederates in Iran had the intention of assassinating Jubeir, and to believe instead that the FBI hatched the plot as part of a sting operation. [Continue reading…]