How stupid are the Iranians? If the allegations by the United States are true, they hired a used car salesman in Texas to knock of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and they also introduced the used car salesman to members of the Quds force like it was a cocktail party.
The main character in this drama is Manssor Arbabsiar, a Texas used car salesman with American and Iranian passports.
The U.S. alleges that Abdul Reza Shahlai, a senior Iranian Quds Force operative, approached Arbabsiar when he was in Tehran last spring to see if Arbabsiar might be interested in participating in a plot to kidnap or kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington. It’s obviously a sensitive mission, but apparently Shahlai picked Arbabsiar because the two men are cousins.
Shahlai then asked Arbabsiar to hire members of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the murder. Why? “Because people in that business are willing to undertake criminal activity in exchange for money,” according to the U.S. complaint. They are criminals; we are criminals…
Shahlai then introduces Arbabsiar to his deputy, Ali Gholam Shakuri, to handle the details. Perhaps Shahlai was too busy.
Arbabsiar travels back to the United States and finds a Mexican man he thinks is a member of a drug cartel, but in fact is an informant for the DEA. The informant immediately does his job and starts informing. Oops.
Arbabsiar then returns to Tehran in July and is introduced to yet another senior Quds operative, Hamed Abdollahi, just for good measure. If Arbabsiar is to be believed, while he is there one of the other Quds guys, Shakuri, does a little name-dropping and happens to mention that the commander of the Quds force, Qasem Soleimani, is fully briefed on the assassination mission – which might include blowing up a Washington DC restaurant while members of Congress are dining there — and he is totally cool with it.
Then when Arbabsiar gets arrested, he admits to everything. It’s not a script to a Three Stooges episode, it is spy tradecraft.