Nine months after President Donald Trump took the controversial step of ordering an airstrike against top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, it appears that nation might be preparing a retaliatory strike.
According to leaked intelligence information, Iranians have considered Lana Marks, the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, as a possible target for the plot, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
Details about the alleged plot
Marks, a businesswoman and personal friend to Trump, assumed her current position in October 2019.
While the Soleimani attack was followed by a largely ineffective Iranian missile barrage on an American base in Iraq, experts have warned that a full-scale attempt at vengeance has yet to materialize.
Citing two unnamed U.S. officials, Politico reported over the weekend that an intelligence report on the alleged Iranian plot has been compiled. One source was described as an official “familiar with the issue” and the other reportedly saw the intelligence material in question.
Although the threat against Marks is believed to date back to the spring, related information has reportedly become more specific in recent weeks. It is believed that the Iranian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, is involved in the alleged plot.
As Politico noted, Iran and South Africa have a long history of friendly diplomatic relations.
A history of provocation
At this point, of course, it is unclear whether any such plot has been given the go-ahead and is currently in progress or if it is just one of several potential targets being considered by the Iranian regime.
In any case, Marks has reportedly been notified of the potential threat against her under a directive mandating members of the intelligence community to issue such warnings. The information has also reportedly been shared with other top officials and lawmakers with a need to know.
Marks has no known ties to Iran or the Middle East in general, so it is not immediately clear why she might have been singled out as a target — aside from her close relationship with the U.S. president.
This is not the first time Iran has been tied to threats against a diplomat. A plot about a decade ago was disrupted by U.S. law enforcement before a Saudi ambassador to the U.S. was allegedly set to be killed by a bomb at a popular D.C. cafe.
With no on-the-record comments from American officials, there is much about this case that remains subject to speculation. Nevertheless, early reports indicate the intelligence community remains engaged and alert to the foreign security threats U.S. diplomats regularly face.