Iran’s military leaders planned an attack against U.S. Army base Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., and an assassination attempt of Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, according to a report released by U.S. intelligence.
The National Security Agency intercepted discussion from Iran’s Quds force in January following the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020. The intercepted conversations included plans to attack Fort McNair with “USS Cole-style attacks.”
The USS Cole attack referred to the October 2000 suicide attack in which a small boat pulled up alongside the Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden and exploded, killing 17 sailors.
The threat has added to discussion from city leaders opposing the Army’s plan to add a buffer zone of about 250 feet to 500 feet from the shore of the Washington Channel. The change would limit access of up to half the width of the area running parallel to the Potomac River.
Iran’s plans for revenge of Gen. Soleimani were a top security concern in January. The U.S. military killed Iran’s top general and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport early on Jan. 3, 2020.
In January 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S.
Iranian state TV carried a statement by Khamenei that called Soleimani “the international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general’s death.
Despite threats of retaliation on the one-year anniversary of Gen. Soleimani’s death, January 2021 passed without public attack on U.S. soldiers or bases. The report of a planned attack revealed that plans are ongoing.
Former President Donald Trump strongly opposed Iran’s plans and ended involvement in Iran’s nuclear deal. President Joe Biden has discussed reinstating the Iranian plan, though no direct talks have taken place.