US intelligence officials believe Iran is plotting to kill the American ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks.
They think she is being targeted as retaliation for the assassination in January of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, in a drone attack ordered by the Trump administration.
Authorities first became aware of a general threat to Marks in the spring, but more specific details have reportedly emerged in recent weeks.
US officials who have seen the intelligence reports told the Politico website that the 66-year-old is only one of a number of potential targets under consideration by Iran as payback for Soleimani’s death.
They said her long friendship with President Donald Trump might be the main reason why she has been targeted by the Iranian government.
However, the location of her posting could also be a factor, according to Hussain Abdel Hussain, a writer, and political analyst in Washington.
“The Iranian choice of the country (in which to plan an attack) depends on the reach of the IRGC’s network,” he said.
“South Africa suffers one of the world’s highest crime rates, and this offers terrorist networks such as the IRGC fertile ground to grow, spread and use terror as a tool for projecting global influence.”
The US officials said staff at the Iranian embassy in Pretoria are involved in the plot to kill Marks. In a message posted on Twitter, officials at the embassy dismissed the accusation as baseless and promised a further response later.
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