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South Africa says insufficient evidence of Iranian plot to assassinate US Ambassador

Ambassador Lana Marks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa after presenting her credentials to the President. (U.S. State Department. U.S. Mission to Africa photo/Released)
September 21, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

South Africa’s State Security Agency said on September 18 that it had found no evidence to support a media report that Iran was planning to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to Pretoria.

State Security Agency spokesman Mava Scott said that South African officials had met with their U.S. counterparts to request additional information.

“At present, the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States ambassador to South Africa,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott added that South Africa takes seriously any threat and it had heightened security to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission and personnel.

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Citing unnamed U.S. officials, Politico reported on September 13 an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Lana Marks, a friend of President Donald Trump who was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to South Africa in October.

Such a plot, said to involve the Iranian Embassy in Pretoria, was reportedly designed to avenge the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

Washington and Tehran appeared to be on the brink of war after Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, was killed in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad on January 3.

Trump responded to the Politico report by vowing overwhelming retaliation against Iran if it were to carry out an attack against the United States and its diplomats.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry denied the report of an assassination plot as “baseless” and part of efforts to “create an anti-Iranian atmosphere.”