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Worldwide travel alert issued for US citizens after alleged plot

American citizens have warned about possible anti-US attacks – after the Obama administration accused Iran of hiring a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate a Saudi diplomat.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Image: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED STATES has issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens after accusing Iran of attempting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington.

American citizens have been warned of possible anti-US actions following the incident, through a statement on the US Department of State’s website:

The US government assesses that this Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States.
US citizens residing and traveling abroad should review the Department’s Worldwide Caution and other travel information when making decisions concerning their travel plans and activities while abroad.

The message adds that the alert will stay in place until 11 January.

The Obama administration has accused Iranian government agents of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States – immediately using the thwarted plot to ratchet up sanctions and recruit international allies to try to further isolate Tehran.

Two men, including a member of Iran’s special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force, were charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Justice Department officials say the men tried to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination with a bomb attack while Al-Jubeir dined at his favorite restaurant.

“The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder-for-hire to kill the Saudi ambassador, nobody could make that up, right?” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Clinton was blunt in saying the United States would use the case as leverage with other countries that have been reluctant to apply harsh sanctions or penalties against Iran. Clinton said she and President Barack Obama called world leaders to tell them of the developments.

“This really, in the minds of many diplomats and government officials, crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for,” Clinton said. She said she and Obama want to “enlist more countries in working together against what is becoming a clearer and clearer threat” from Iran.

The US criminal complaint said the Iranian plotters hired a would-be assassin in Mexico who was a paid informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration and told U.S. authorities all about their plot, which they code-named “Chevrolet.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller said many lives could have been lost. But Preet Bharara, the US attorney in Manhattan, said no explosives were actually placed and no one was in any danger because of the informant’s cooperation with authorities.

Attorney General Eric Holder, appearing at a news conference with Mueller and Bharara, declared, “The United States is committed to holding Iran responsible for its actions.”

Iran has strenuouly denied the accusations, with Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast saying: “Those who have worked out such prefabricated scenarios are after no goal but fomenting strife”, reports semi-state new agency Fars.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a ruling system based on Islamic values and ethics and has always warned of the danger of the enemies of the region,” he added.

Chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaoddin Boroujerdi claimed that the US had launched the accusations as an attempt to divert world attention from the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Read: Iran ‘tried to hire Mexican drug cartel to kill diplomat’>

Additional reporting by the AP

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