Iran is plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa to avenge the killing of senior Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the Politico news site reported Sunday.
It cited U.S. intelligence reports seen by a U.S. government official for the revelation.
According to the article, Ambassador Lana Marks (pictured) was a likely target because of her closeness to President Donald Trump. It said:
The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.
News of the plot comes as Iran continues to seek ways to retaliate for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a powerful Iranian general earlier this year, the officials said. If carried out, it could dramatically ratchet up already serious tensions between the U.S. and Iran and create enormous pressure on Trump to strike back — possibly in the middle of a tense election season.
Iran has denied the allegations.
The Iranian embassy in the South African capital of Pretoria is involved in the plot, the report cited the U.S. government official as saying.
Iran has already enacted revenge over Soleimani’s killing, firing ballistic missiles at a US base in Iraq in January, to which the US did not respond. However, the killing of a US ambassador would “dramatically ratchet up already serious tensions between the U.S. and Iran and create enormous pressure on Trump to strike back,” the report said, possibly in the middle of a tense election season.
A U.S. airstrik in January killed Soleimani, architect of Iran’s regional security apparatus, at Baghdad’s international airport under Trump’s directive.
Marks, 66, a Jewish Florida-based luxury handbag designer and longtime friend of Trump, was born and raised in South Africa. She has been a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and counts many celebrities among her clients who buy her handbags, which can fetch up to $40,000.
She was also a close personal friend of Princess Diana.
Marks was aware of the threat against her life, the result of an intelligence community directive known as “Duty to Warn” that requires U.S. intelligence to notify a potential victim of any danger they face.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denied the Politico allegations: “Such baseless remarks are part of the Trump administration’s counter-intelligence campaign against Iran.
“The U.S. regime’s resort to allegations and lies against Iran on the threshold of the U.S. presidential election and concurrent with its pressures to use the U.N. Security Council mechanisms with the aim of increasing pressure on the Iranian nation was predictable,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the state-affiliated Fars news site.