BY MICHAEL BOWMAN – America’s highest-ranking senator on intelligence matters says she is convinced of Iran’s involvement in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein says U.S. authorities have amassed ample evidence showing involvement by Iran’s elite Quds Force in the assassination plot. She said the case against Iran is air-tight – or, as she put it, “dead-bang”.
“The evidence is very strong. To cross to the other side of the world and attack in this country is an escalation. That that is what concerns us, and I think that is what concerns the Saudis, as well.”
Feinstein is regularly briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies on classified and highly-sensitive material. She spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program, which is broadcast domestically in the United States.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied involvement in the plot. The country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said allegations of Iranian backing for the alleged assassination attempt are absurd.
The Democratic senator from California said the Quds Force is well-known for plotting violence, and that no one should assume the alleged assassination plot is an isolated incident.
“There is no question that the Quds Force has been responsible for other operations, going back to 1993 in Buenos Aires with the Argentine-Israeli mutual association and that bomb. Four days ago, they carried out an operation, or financed an operation, against our people in Iraq. I do not think this is an isolated thing that suddenly came up. They have done these kinds of things before.”
Feinstein urged tightening U.S. sanctions to blacklist any company or government that does business with Iran’s central bank. She said she is not eager for U.S. military confrontation with Iran. She said even a strike against the Quds Force is problematic.
“It probably would escalate into a war, and the question is: do we want to go to war with Iran at this time? My judgment is no. We have our hands full with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with the deteriorating relationship with Pakistan.”
Friday, the State Department said Washington had a direct meeting with Iranian officials over the alleged plot to make it “absolutely clear” the United States considers that type of behavior “unacceptable” and a violation of U.S. and international law.