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Report: US gov’t says Iran may try to assassinate US officials

Qassem Soleimani, Fmr. IRGC Quds Forces Commander, attending National AGIR Commanders Conference. (Mahmoud Hosseini/Tasnim News Agency)
July 14, 2022

In a June 16 report obtained this week, U.S. intelligence officials said they believe Iran is still plotting to assassinate current and former U.S. government officials as revenge for the January 2020 drone strike on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, which was ordered by President Donald Trump.

A U.S. government intelligence report, provided exclusively to Yahoo News on Wednesday, states, “The Iranian regime is waging a multipronged campaign — including threats of lethal action, international legal maneuvering, and the issuance of Iranian arrest warrants and sanctions — against select U.S. officials to avenge the death of IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani in January 2020, raising the threat at home and abroad for those Iran views as responsible for the killing.”

The advisory was produced by the National Counterterrorism Center in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to Yahoo News, who said the advisory was dated June 16, 2022 and is marked “Not for Public Release” and “For Official Use Only.” It has not been posted on the agency’s website.

“Since January 2021, Tehran has publicly expressed a willingness to conduct lethal operations inside the United States and has consistently identified former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and former CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie as among its priority targets for retribution,” the intelligence advisory continues. “Iran would probably view the killing or prosecution of a U.S. official it considers equivalent in rank and stature to Soleimani or responsible for his death as successful retaliatory actions.”

Soleimani was killed on Jan. 3, 2020, as he rode in a security detail leaving the Baghdad International Airport and driving into the city. Soleimani was traveling with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of a pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia militia known as the Popular Mobilization Front (PMF). Members of PMF and their supporters had just days earlier carried out a violent and destructive riot at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where they set fires at the embassy compound and attempted to storm the embassy. Trump and others in his administration assessed that Soleimani was in Baghdad to help coordinate further attacks on Americans in Iraq.

This report obtained by Yahoo News would not be the first time U.S. intelligence has warned that current and former U.S. officials could be targeted with revenge killings by Iran. While this reported intelligence advisory has been described as a document not meant for public consumption, U.S. officials have stated on the record that Iran is seeking revenge killings for the Trump-era strike on Soleimani.

In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iranian efforts to kill Americans are “real and ongoing.” In May, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines testified before the Senate that Iran’s efforts to avenge Soleimani are ongoing and that Iran has “previously attempted to conduct lethal operations in the United States.”

This latest threat assessment comes as President Joe Biden’s administration has sought a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The efforts to restart the deal have reportedly hit multiple roadblocks and Biden said on Wednesday that he will not relax a terrorism designation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), even if it jeopardizes negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA.