Multiple air traffic controllers in New York received a threat Monday in audio obtained by CBS News: “We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged,” it said.
The news comes on the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack.
Iran has vowed to avenge Soleimani’s killing, and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year said that retaliation against the US would happen, Al Arabiya English earlier reported.
Iran will never forget the US killing of Soleimani, and “will definitely strike a retaliatory blow to the Americans,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.
Washington is aware of Iran’s position. In December last year General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command (Centcom), told journalists, “We are prepared to defend ourselves, our friends and partners in the region, and we’re prepared to react if necessary.”
It’s unclear who sent the threat. While the US government does not believe the warning of an attack is credible, it is being investigated as a breach of aviation frequencies, CBS News reported.
Sources told CBS News a message was sent to air traffic controllers on Tuesday reminding them that any threat or a plane deviating from its flight path should be reported immediately.
Tensions are rising in the Middle East, highlighted by the IRGC’s seizure of a South Korean-flagged tanker on Monday.
In a sign of creating unity amongst Gulf countries Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on the sidelines of the GCC Summit in AlUla on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, had severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge Doha denies.
The summit saw all Gulf countries sign the AlUla declaration which Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said formally ended the dispute with Qatar.
The Crown Prince had said during the summit there was an urgent need for Gulf countries to unite their efforts, especially in the face of the Iranian threat in the region.
“We urgently need to unite our efforts to... confront the challenges that surround us, particularly the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile program, and the destructive projects adopted by its proxies through terrorist and sectarian activities to destabilize the security and stability of the region,” the crown prince said.