U.S. President Donald Trump says any attack by Iran would be met with a far greater response, in reaction to a news report that said Tehran planned to assassinate a U.S. diplomat to avenge the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
"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!" Trump tweeted on September 14.
Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) elite Quds Force, was killed in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad in January.
Trump’s tweet came after Politico reported on an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Lana Marks, a friend of the president who was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to South Africa in October.
“According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering caused over so many years,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
U.S. intelligence reports say the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against Marks, according to Politico in a story published on September 13. The story quotes an unidentified U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.
U.S. officials have been aware of a general threat against Marks since the spring, the officials said. But the intelligence about the threat has become more specific in recent weeks. The Iranian Embassy in Pretoria is involved in the plot, the U.S. government official said.
Marks, 66, has been made aware of the threat, the U.S. government official said.
It is unclear why Iran would target her. She is, however, one of several options U.S. officials believe Iran’s regime is considering for retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Politico said.
Days after Soleimani was killed, Iran launched ballistic missiles at a military base in Iraq that housed U.S. forces, causing dozens of traumatic brain injuries.
With reporting by AFP and Politico