Voicemail threatening 9/11-style attack on US Capitol sparked federal investigation after audio was picked up on air force radios vowing to ‘avenge’ US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
“We are flying a plane in the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged ”, says the mysterious message, first received by New York-based air traffic controllers earlier this week, according to CBS News. The post refers to the US drone attack that killed Iranian Force Chief Quds near Baghdad airport early last year.
The alarming missive came as Congress prepares to count the Electoral College votes in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. It is believed that the message was designed to suggest an attack during these procedures.
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While it is not yet clear who was behind the digital voice recording, officials do not believe the threat is “credible,” CBS reported – although the incident is still under investigation as a violation of air traffic frequencies. The culprit is reportedly based in the United States, Newsweek noting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had restricted the show’s origin to a location on Long Island in New York City.
“It is assessed that the responsible technician has radio modification experience and transmits somewhere in [20 nautical miles] of the North Sea Radio Tower, New York, “ says a DHS report.
A former Joint Special Forces terrorism officer also expressed doubts that the perpetrators are Iranian, told Newsweek “Any terrorist group or advanced nation-state, whether it is the Quds Force or Hezbollah, has demonstrated very professional operational security.”
The Iranian regime and its proxies would not communicate plans and intentions for an attack. Predicting such an event would serve to harm their intentions rather than arouse fear.“
The FBI declined to comment on the incident, saying only that it was necessary “All threats of violence to public security seriously”,while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it had contacted law enforcement. The Pentagon, DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) were also reportedly informed.
The threat was reported just hours after Tehran again called the international police agency Interpol to help hold President Donald Trump and 47 other US officials accountable for their role in Soleimani’s death, despite previous demands remained without answer.
The Islamic Republic first responded to the assassination with a barrage of rockets at military bases housing US troops in Iraq, inflicting head injuries on a number of soldiers. However, according to then Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, Iranian military leaders warned their Iraqi counterparts ahead of the counterattack, apparently hoping to limit the damage. U.S. officials have since repeatedly warned of further retaliation, pointing to periodic rocket attacks near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, although no subsequent strikes have been credibly linked to Tehran.
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