Nation & World briefly
Holder: U.S. will hold Iran accountable in assassination plot
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration on Tuesday accused agents of the Iranian government of being involved in a plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the thwarted plot would further isolate Tehran.
Two people, including a member of Iran’s special operations unit known as the Quds Force, were charged in New York federal court. Justice Department officials say they were working with a person they thought was an associate of a Mexican drug cartel to target the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. But their contact was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency who told U.S. authorities about all their planning.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said many lives could have been lost in the plot to kill the ambassador with bombs in the U.S. But Preet Bharara, the U.S. 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 said the U.S. would hold Iran accountable. Clinton told The Associated Press the plot would further isolate Iran as the United States put those allegedly involved under sanctions.
Israel, Hamas reach tentative deal
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli and Hamas have reached a deal to free a captured Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, both sides said Tuesday, capping five years of painful negotiations that have repeatedly collapsed in fingerpointing and violence.
The deal, brokered by the new Egyptian government, would bring home Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006 by Palestinian militants who burrowed into Israel and dragged him into Gaza. Little has been known about his fate since then.
Hamas and Israel are bitter enemies. Hamas has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, killing hundreds, and Israel blockaded Gaza after Hamas seized power there in 2007, carrying out a large-scale invasion in 2009 to try to stop daily rocket attacks on Israel.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, convened an urgent Cabinet meeting Tuesday night to approve the deal.
“Gilad will return to Israel in the coming days,” Netanyahu declared in a nationally televised address before entering the meeting.
NJ’s Christie backs Mitt Romney
LEBANON, N.H. (AP) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who spurned repeated calls to run for president himself – endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination Tuesday, sending a signal to the skeptical GOP establishment to fall in line behind the former Massachusetts governor.
“I’m here in New Hampshire for one simple reason: America cannot survive another four years of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s the man to lead America and we need him now,” Christie said, standing alongside Romney.
The endorsement was a surprise, coming just hours before a GOP presidential debate and just a week after the pugnacious, budget-cutting Christie disappointed party elders and top GOP donors when he decided last week that he wouldn’t run for president in 2012.
In the intervening days, Romney and his chief rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have been scrambling to win support from the donors and party elders who had been sitting on the sidelines and waiting for Christie to decide.
It’s unclear just how much impact – if any – the endorsement will have with less than three months before the primary voting season begins and as Romney tries to position himself as the party’s inevitable nominee.