President Donald Trump said late Monday that his administration would retaliate to any form of attack by the Iranian regime with an attack “that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude.”
In a Twitter statement, the president wrote, “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.
“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!” he wrote.
…caused over so many years. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2020
Trump’s statement comes after South Africa’s State Security Agency said on Monday it has “noted reports about an alleged plot to assassinate the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Lana Marks.” The agency also said that it was taking steps to ensure no harm would come to any diplomats stationed in the country.
Marks, a close ally of Trump, was sworn in as U.S. ambassador on Oct. 4 last year.
Politico first reported on the matter, writing on Sept. 13 that, “The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa,” citing U.S. intelligence reports via an unnamed U.S. government official and another official who reportedly told the outlet they had seen the intelligence.
The outlet added, citing the unnamed officials, that the intelligence about the threat became more specific in recent weeks, and that the Iranian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, was involved.
A spokesperson for the Iranian embassy in Pretoria rejected the claim in a statement to local outlet Independent Media on Monday.
“While I deny this baseless accusation, we will provide you with more information soon,” Hamid Reza told the outlet.
The Politico report said that news of the plot comes amid Iran’s continued search for ways to avenge the killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in January. Soleimani commanded the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force and was the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on Monday to comment on the reported threat to Marks, as well as any actions that the State Department is taking to protect the ambassador.
He told Fox News, “I can’t comment on the intelligence but I’ll say this: the Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in assassination efforts all across the world. They have assassinated people in Europe and in other parts of the world.
“We take these kinds of allegations seriously. We’ll do everything that’s within our means to protect anyone of our state department officials the same way we do for our soldiers sailors airmen and marines.
“We make very clear to the Islamic Republic of Iran that this kind of activity—attacking any American any place at any time, whether it’s an American diplomat, an ambassador, or one of our service members—is completely unacceptable.”
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.