After a dubiously sourced report from Politico claimed Iran is considering assassinating the US ambassador to South Africa, an intelligence source told the South African newspaper Daily Maverick that the plot was “not likely to be real.”
The source told the Maverick that while they take every threat seriously, there “appears to be, from our perspective, no discernible threat.” The source said that the “associations made are not sustainable on any level.”
The source said that with November approaching, the story could have been an effort by the Trump administration to distract the public from its failures, or as the source put it, a “weapon of mass distraction” and an instance of “the tail wagging the dog.”
The original Politico report, which was published on Sunday, cited two anonymous officials. They said Iran was considering the plot to kill the ambassador, Lana Marks, as retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
Politico speculated the reason why Marks could be the target is her close relationship with President Trump. Marks, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, was born in South Africa and has served as the US ambassador to the country since last October.
For their part, Iran denied the charge. “Such baseless claims are part of the Trump administration’s intelligence campaign against Iran,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for South Africa’s foreign ministry told Bloomberg that the allegations made in the Politico report took them by surprise. “We only became aware of this report this morning,” the spokesperson said on Monday.
It is worth noting that one of the authors of the Politico report, Natasha Bertrand, built her career on hyping the Steele Dossier, a now-discredited document that made unverified claims about the Russian government and the Trump campaign in 2016.