The Envoy
  • A Syrian-born American man in Virginia was arrested Tuesday on charges of spying on Syrian dissidents in the United States for the Syrian regime, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

    Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, a.k.a. "Alex Soueid," 47, a resident of Leesburg, Va., was indicted for acting as an unregistered agent of the Syrian intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, for providing false statements on a firearms purchase, and for providing false statements to federal law enforcement.

    If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on the foreign agent charges, 15 years for the firearms charges and 10 years in prison on the false statement charges,  the Justice Department said Wednesday in a statement on the case.

    Syrian dissidents and exiles in the United States have repeatedly claimed their relatives in Syria were being persecuted because of their appearance at pro-democracy events in American cities. The State Department has repeatedly raised the charges, which have been vociferously denied by the Syrian ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustafa.

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  • Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (U.S. Marshals Service/ABC News)Umar Farouk Abulmutallab, the Nigerian-born London University student charged with attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, pled guilty on all counts on Wednesday, calling the explosives he had stored in his underwear a "blessed weapon."

    "I plead guilty," Abdulmutallab, 23, told the judge at the trial in Detroit after changing his plea, ABC News' Jason Ryan reports. "The Koran allows every Muslim to undertake jihad. I carried the device to avenge the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters... Unfortunately, my actions make me guilty of a crime."

    Abdulmutallab had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges of attempting to blow up Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25, 2009, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder.

    The son of a wealthy former Nigerian official who went to the American embassy to express concern about his missing son, Abdulmutallab allegedly told federal investigators after his apprehension that he had been trained by al Qaida's Yemeni affiliate and sent on the mission by the American-born radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

    Abdulmutallab, in his statement to the court Wednesday,  said "that he was 'greatly inspired' by Awlaki" and insisted that al-Awlaki is still alive, Ryan reported.

    The United States confirmed that al-Awlaki had been killed in Yemen earlier this month, apparently in a U.S. drone strike.

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  • Who is Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir?

    Ambassador Adel-Al-Jubeir (Embassy of Saudi Arabia)The Justice Department unsealed a five-count criminal complaint Tuesday alleging Iran Qods force-backed agents plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States and possibly bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C.

    Riyadh's envoy to Washington, Adel Al-Jubeir, is the hand-picked, trusted envoy of the oil-rich monarchy's King Abdullah.

    A non-royal, Al-Jubeir, 49, previously served as the Saudi embassy's congressional liaison and head of the information office (his brother currently serves that role). Educated in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Germany, Lebanon and the United States, Al-Jubeir earned his masters degree from Georgetown University. He joined Saudi Arabia's diplomatic service in 1987. He was appointed Riyadh's envoy to Washington in 2007.

    The Envoy reported last month that Al-Jubeir personally brought a secret letter from King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia to President Obama at the White House in September. He then left almost immediately for Saudi Arabia again. The White House and Saudi embassy did not disclose what the subject of the correspondence involved.

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