Iran is allegedly mulling over an attempt to assassinate the United States’ ambassador to South Africa as retaliation for the American drone attack earlier this year that killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force.
The news of Tehran’s purported plans was first reported by Politico, who spoke with one official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.
If Iran does attempt to carry out the assassination, it would severely ratchet up the already tense relations between Washington and Tehran, along with giving the Trump administration impetus to retaliate. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria told Fox News it had no comment.
U.S. officials have been aware of threats against the ambassador, Lana Marks, since the spring, but intelligence suggests those threats have become more specific in recent weeks.
Soleimani is the military mastermind whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had deemed equally as dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In October, Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. raid on a compound in northwest Syria, seven months after the so-called ISIS “caliphate” crumbled as the terrorist group lost its final swath of Syrian territory in March.
The nighttime attack occurred amid tensions with the U.S. after an Iran-backed militia attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was targeted at the end of December by angry mobs who were protesting recent U.S. airstrikes.
The two-day siege outside of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad came to an end after dozens of pro-Iran militiamen and their supporters withdrew from the compound.