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    U.S. Offers $15 Million Reward For Information On Iranian Commander In Yemen

    Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook addresses reporters at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on December 5, 2019.
    On Thursday the U.S. Special Representative on Iran said the State Department was offering $15 million for information on Yemen-based Iranian Guards senior Commander Abdul-Reza Shahlai's "financial activities, networks, and associates". The U.S. holds the shady Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force commander responsible for several attacks against coalition troops in Iraq including a sophisticated attack in Karbala on January 20, 2007 that killed five soldiers and wounded three others. "This is a part of the Rewards for Justice program for information leading to the disruption of IRGC operations," Brian Hook said in his press conference. The program is managed by the U.S. Department of State and offers cash rewards for information leading to arrest or elimination of the top terrorist enemies of the United States.

    "We remain gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind that we have interdicted to the Houthis," the U.S. Special Representative on Iran said. Brian Hook added that Iranian involvement in Yemen including provision of sophisticated weapons and missile parts such as the shipment interdicted by the U.S. on November 25 off the coast of Yemen has wreaked havoc in the region.

    He also referred to Shahlai's alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Adil Jubeir, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., at a restaurant in Georgetown, Washington in 2011. According to Hook the Guards senior commander also aimed to carry out follow-on attacks in the United States and elsewhere including attacks on Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington. "Had this scheme succeeded, as many as 200 innocent civilians in the United States could have been killed," he said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) named the Saudi ambassador's assassination case "Operation Red Coalition" and charged two Iranian nationals, Mansour Arababsiar and Ali Gholam-Shakuri, on October 11 of plotting to carry out the assassination.

    Arbabsiar who was arrested while attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to murder a foreign official and the other charges brought against him but was found guilty by the court. He was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. According to Washington Post during his trial Arbabsiar said his cousin Abdul-Reza Shahlai who was a "big general" in the military had masterminded the plot to assassinate Jubeir. Arbabsiar claimed Shahlai (Shahlaei) had used him to hire a Mexican drug cartel assassin to kill the Saudi ambassador. The other Iranian national charged in the case who disappeared and was never found was Shahlai's deputy, Colonel Ali Gholam-Shakuri, Arbabsiar told the court.

    Iran categorically denied these allegations. The former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee called them "fabrication" of the American "warmongering and propaganda machine against Iran." "Given Shahlai’s track record of terrorism and destabilization in Iraq, we remain gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind that we have interdicted to the Houthis," Brian Hook told reporters in his press conference on Thursday.

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