The Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, reportedly is weighing a plan to assassinate Lana Marks, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, in response to the Trump administration killing Qassem Soleimani — a terrorist Iranian general.
“U.S. officials have been aware of a general threat against the ambassador, Lana Marks, since the spring, the officials said,” Politico reported. “But the intelligence about the threat to the ambassador 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 the U.S. ambassador to South Africa for nearly a year and has known President Donald Trump for more than 20 years. Marks is a famous handbag designer — her bags sell for well into the tens of thousands of dollars — and is a successful businesswoman. Politico added that Marks has deep connections with famous figures in the international community.
A U.S. official told Politico that they think one of the potential reasons that the Iranians could have targeted Marks is her long-term friendship with Trump. Iran is known for planning and executing assassinations around the world including in the U.S., where they previously planned a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., to kill a foreign official that would have resulted in the deaths of over 100 people.
Trump ordered the strike to kill Soleimani, which happened at the start of the year, due to attacks that officials believed Soleimani was planning in the region.
CNN reported, “A current administration official and former senior official with knowledge of the situation told CNN that Iran’s link to the Taliban was cited by US officials as part of the argument for conducting the strike that killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in January.”
The U.S. government released the following information on Soleimani following the strike:
Since 1998, Qassem Soleimani commanded Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the terror arm of the Iranian regime. The IRGC-QF is tasked with planning and executing terror and military operations outside Iran’s borders. Under Soleimani’s command, the IRGC-QF has fueled destabilizing sectarian conflicts throughout the Middle East for decades.
- The IRGC-QF continues to wage an illegal campaign of terrorism, assassinations, and violence. At Soleimani’s direction and with his oversight and guidance, the IRGC-QF has planned and conducted terrorist attacks across six continents and inside the United States.
- The United States designated IRGC-QF a Foreign Terrorist Organization for its activities, and the United States designated Soleimani as a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist.
- As the leader of the IRGC-QF, Qassem Soleimani was directly responsible for arming, funding, and training proxy groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Operations carried out by these proxy groups have led to the death and suffering of tens of thousands, including many hundreds of Americans. These proxies routinely target and kill civilians, intensify sectarian conflicts, and prolong the suffering of innocent men, women, and children.
- Soleimani personally directed and provided arms to militias in Iraq for more than a decade. These militias undermine the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, threaten the legitimacy of Iraq’s security forces, and target American citizens and forces. With Soleimani’s support and lethal assistance, proxies of the IRGC-QF targeted and killed over 600 Americans between 2003 and 2011.
- We can confirm that in the past several days, General Soleimani had been traveling in the Middle East coordinating further imminent large-scale attacks against U.S. diplomats and service members. These threats were highly credible and the intelligence is sound. General Soleimani’s travel also violated the ban imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
- Recent orders given by General Soleimani dramatically escalated Iran’s campaign of violence and terrorism against Americans and American interests in the Middle East. He orchestrated a series of attacks against American forces in Iraq in the past several months, culminating in the rocket attack on December 27, 2019, which resulted in the death of an American citizen, wounded four American service members, and threatened the lives of many more American personnel. General Soleimani also ordered the assault on the American Embassy in Baghdad. General Soleimani continued to command Iranian supported proxies in Iraq, which posed an escalating threat to the lives of Americans.
- For his actions, Soleimani had been designated and sanctioned by the United Nations, European Union, and United States and is banned from international travel by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. In defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, however, Soleimani continued to travel to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon directing and coordinating lethal actions that pose a threat to regional peace and security.
- Some key international and United States designations of Soleimani include:
- Designated a Tier I terrorist as part of the Department of State designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019.
- Designated under U.S. Executive Order 13224 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2011.
- Designated under U.S. EO 13572 for human rights abuses in 2011.
- Designated under U.S. EO 13882 for providing material support to terrorists in 2007.
- Sanctioned by the United Nations under UNSCR 1747 for involvement in Iran’s nuclear program in 2007.
- Designated by the European Union in EU 442/2011 for support to the Syrian regime in 2011.
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