Federal officials are investigating a chilling threat made on air traffic control radio waves two days ago, which promised revenge for the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top terrorism architect who was killed one year ago in an airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump.
Air traffic controllers working airspace over New York heard the threat on Monday, CBS News reported.
"We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged," the unidentified person said on the aviation frequency.
The threat came on the one-year anniversary of Soleimani's death, whom Iranian officials have repeatedly vowed to avenge.
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The possibility of retaliation from Iran to mark the anniversary has been a major concern for the U.S. In the immediate aftermath of the killing, Iran launched an attack on a Baghdad airbase housing U.S. troops, killing none but injuring several.
This week, Iran called on the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to issue a "red notice" for Trump's arrest in connection with Soleimani's killing. The international agency's general secretariat told NPR it is "strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character" and that it will not act on Iran's request.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the threat promised an attack Wednesday at the Capitol, the same time and location where chaos is unfolding over Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Is the threat credible?
Fortunately, government officials do not believe the threat was credible, although senior national security officials were briefed about the threat, Fox News reported.
What is more concerning about the incident, officials said, was the fact that someone was able to breach the highly secured communication lines between pilots and air traffic controllers than ensure planes are able to operate safely.