U.S. intelligence revealed that the Iranian government is considering assassinating the American ambassador to South Africa to avenge the drone strike death of an Iranian general in January. President Trump issued a severe warning to Iran, stating that an attack against the U.S. would be met with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude.”
According to a report, U.S. officials have known there has been a threat against ambassador Lana Marks since earlier in the year. New intelligence revealed that the plotting has become more detailed in the last few weeks and involves the Iranian embassy in Pretoria, one of South Africa’s capital cities.
Marks, a luxury handbag designer who was born in South Africa, has been the country’s U.S. ambassador since last October. Intelligence officials are unclear why the Iranians would target Marks, as she has few known ties to the country, but consider her two-decade-long friendship with President Trump as a potential motivation.
Officials noted that Iran may be spurred by its robust network of covert operatives in South Africa and a history of executing assassinations beyond their borders. Marks may just be a conveniently high-profile target in a country where Iran has held firm clandestine positioning for decades.
Iran has reportedly been strategizing ways to retaliate against the U.S. since Trump ordered a drone strike in January that killed general Qassem Soleimani, who was accused of targeting American troops in the region. The President revealed that Soleimani was planning attacks on at least four U.S. embassies prior to the assassination.
Days later Iran launched ballistic missiles at Al-Asad Airbase where U.S. troops were training Iraqi security forces to fight ISIS. No casualties were reported after the attack and the President declined a retaliate with force, instead imposing sanctions and issuing a strong warning to deter future incidents.
Iran issued a statement of denial on Monday. “Such baseless claims are part of the Trump administration’s intelligence campaign against Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
President Trump tweeted out a dire warning to Tehran’s authoritarian regime late Monday night: “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!“
…caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2020