U.S. Denies Iran Claims That Saudi Plot Defendant Belongs to Exile Group

Obama administration officials on Wednesday denied Iranian news reports that a man charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States is actually an agent of an exiled Iranian opposition group.

“We note that these reports originate solely with Iranian state media sources, which have a documented history of fabricating news stories,” said Rhonda H. Shore, a State Department spokeswoman.

American officials said they are sure that the man, Gholam Shakuri, is an officer of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, as asserted in the criminal complaint unveiled last week by the Justice Department.

Mr. Shakuri is charged, along with an Iranian-American former used-car dealer, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, with plotting to hire a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador for $ 1.5 million. American officials say $ 100,000 for the plot was transferred from a bank account associated with the Quds Force. Mr. Arbabsiar is in American custody, but Mr. Shakuri’s whereabouts are not known.

The Iranian news reports said that Interpol, the international law enforcement agency, had discovered that Mr. Shakuri was “a key member” of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq. Also known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the group is regarded by Iran as a terrorist organization and has a history of sabotage and assassination aimed at overthrowing the Islamic government of Iran.

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