National security officials within the Trump administration have been briefed on a threat to fly a commercial plane into the U.S. Capitol Building to avenge the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani a year ago.
“We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged,” an unknown person said in a digitized message that was heard by several air traffic controllers in New York, according to CBS News, who obtained the audio.
Fox News cited a national security official who said that “relevant agencies” were already briefed on the threat, adding that “while it is possible it is a hoax, it is being taken seriously.”
Another senior defense official told Fox News that while the administration takes “all threats seriously,” this one “does not seem to be credible, though we’ll continue to assess.”
The threat conjures up images and memories of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack in which Al Qaeda-linked terrorists hijacked and took over four U.S. commercial airliners. Two planes were flown into each of the then-twin World Trade Center towers, toppling both. A third plane struck the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a rural area in western Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered terrorists who were flying it.
The threat came on the one-year anniversary of Soleimani’s death — Jan. 3 — from a missile strike at Baghdad’s’ international airport, that was ordered by President Trump. It also follows an earlier threat this week from a top Iranian official who warned, that President Donald Trump “will not be safe on Earth.” That echoed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who had also said of Trump, “in a few days, the life of this criminal will end.”
Following the strike, Trump administration officials said Soleimani was killed because as one of Iran’s top generals he was in charge of operations throughout the Middle East targeting U.S. forces. The White House said at the time of his death U.S. intelligence indicated he was in the planning stages of a major attack.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at the time that “severe revenge awaits the criminals” responsible for the attack. Soleimani was widely viewed as the second-most powerful figure in the Islamic republic behind Khamenei. He commanded the elite Revolutionary Guards force, whose leaders reported directly to him and the ayatollah.
Following Soleimani’s death, President Trump justified it, telling reporters he “saved a lot of lives by terminating his life.”
“He was traveling with the head of Hezbollah. They weren’t there to discuss a vacation,” said the president. “They weren’t there to go to a nice resort someplace in Baghdad. They were there to discuss bad business.”
Democrats blasted Trump for ordering the attack, but they were called out by Republican figures who questioned why they would back Iran over their own country.
“I’ll tell you this, you don’t see anyone standing up for Iran. You’re not hearing any of the Gulf members, you’re not hearing China, you’re not hearing Russia,” former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who served under Trump, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity following the attack.
“The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates,” she added.
“No one else in the world, because they knew that this man had evil [in his] veins,” Haley said. They knew what he was capable of. And they saw the destruction and the lives lost from his hands.”
In response, Iran launched ballistic missiles at two bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq in response to Solemani’s death.
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