The world is waiting to see how the Joe Biden Administration will handle policy in regard to Iran. After the Barack Obama Administration reached a multinational nuclear agreement with that country, and the Donald Trump Administration exited that agreement, and went on to assassinate Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in early 2020. Iran, per a U.S. intelligence report last week, attempted to interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Now, there are reports of new belligerence towards the United States on Iran’s part.
According to the Associated Press, Iran has made threats against both the Army base Fort McNair, and against the Army’s vice chief of staff. The report cited two senior U.S. intelligence officials.
Intelligence, per the report, in January picked up communications intercepted by the National Security Agency, showing that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force proposed “USS Cole-style attacks” against Fort McNair, in Washington, D.C. They also heard discussion of plans to “infiltrate and surveil the base.” The discussions were characterized as attempts to avenge the assassination of Soleimani, the longtime Quds Force commander who was killed by an American drone strike while traveling in Iraq in January 2020.
The USS Cole was a Naval destroyer that was bombed by an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber in October of 2000, killing seventeen soldiers, a little less than a year before the 9/11 attacks.
Also reportedly targeted in the chatter was Gen. Joseph M. Martin, who resides at Fort McNair. Gen. Martin has been the Army’s vice chief of staff since 2019, and he was promoted to general at the same time.
Those threats appear to be at least one of the reasons why the Army has requested additional security around the base, including a “buffer zone” of up to 500 feet from the shore of the Washington Channel. That request has been a point of contention in recent months with District of Columbia officials, although the reason for the Army request had not been made public until now. That area is considered an up-and-coming area of Washington, D.C., and the request for additional security has ruffled some feathers in the neighborhood.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington, D.C., in Congress, was skeptical of the restrictions, she told the AP.
“I have asked the Department of Defense to withdraw the rule because I’ve seen no evidence of a credible threat that would support the proposed restriction,” Norton told the news service. “They have been trying to get their way, but their proposal is more restrictive than necessary.”
Iran will hold new elections this June. According to Critical Threats, the country’s reformist faction is fracturing, ahead of the vote.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.