Published October 12, 2011
The Iranian American accused of organizing a $1.5 million assassination plot against Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States is a Texas used car salesman.
Manssor Arbabsiar, also known as Mansour Arbabsiar, 56, has spent most of the past 25 years living and working in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he is known as "Jack."
His friends also nicknamed him "Scarface" because of an injury he got during a fight over a woman more than two decades ago, MyFoxHouston.com reports.
Arbabsiar, a naturalized citizen who holds both an American and Iranian passport, appeared in a Manhattan courtroom dressed in jeans Tuesday to face various terror charges.
He was arrested in New York City on Sept. 29 in connection with the plot and was charged along with Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran's Quds Force, a special operations unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Local businessman Mitchell Hamauei said he and Arbabsiar have been friends for 15 years.
"I was very shocked to see what happened, you know," Hamauei said. "That's out of character for him and he's a businessman. Maybe he thought it was a joke. I don't know. I just don't know what's going on in his mind."
Arbabsiar was a well-known car salesman in the city's Iranian and Middle Eastern communities, but he also dabbled in other businesses, including a now-shut down convenience store and a Middle Eastern restaurant in a popular mall.
In the 1990s, Arbabsiar was arrested three times in Corpus Christi for various traffic violations. In 2001, he was accused of theft by check, but the case was later dismissed.
In 2004, Arbabsiar was arrested near Austin for driving with a suspended license.
Hamauei said his friend recently moved to Round Rock because he could sell more cars in the Austin area.
"If you wanted a wholesale car, something real inexpensive, you'd call him up and he'd get you a real good deal," Hamauei said.