Air traffic controllers in New York received a chilling threat over the frequency used by airline pilots that someone would fly “a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged.”
The threat refers to Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a drone strike one year ago on January 3. Wednesday is also the day that Congress will vote to certify Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Authorities don’t believe the threat is credible, but are investigating the breach in airline frequencies.
It’s unclear who sent the threat. While the government does not believe the warning of an attack is credible, it is being investigated as a breach of aviation frequencies, CBS News has learned.
Sources told CBS News that the Pentagon and other agencies were briefed Tuesday about the digitized voice recording. The sources said they believe the threat was designed to suggest hitting the Capitol on the same day Congress is set to count the Electoral College results.
Experts said the intrusion is concerning because it could affect the instructions pilots get about how and where planes fly.
Wow. Air Traffic controllers in New York breached with threats of revenge for #Iran’s Qassem Suleimani.
CBS Video of breach with message: “We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday [tomorrow]. Suleimani will be avenged.” pic.twitter.com/LxYzuruyNz
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 6, 2021
If someone has figured out a way to talk to pilots, pretending to be controllers, we are in trouble. There is probably security already in place to prevent that but if there wasn’t before, there certainly is now.
The FBI believes the threat is “not credible.”
In a statement to Fox News, the FBI said it “takes all threats of violence to public safety seriously.” The Capitol Police was working with federal law enforcement partners.
The Federal Aviation Administration works with authorities and national security partners on “reported security threats that may impact aviation safety,” it said in a statement.
The threat comes as Congress is expected to meet Wednesday in a joint-session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the November presidential election.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Commander Esmail Ghaani, who succeeded Soliemani after the assassination, made some colorful threats in a speech commemorating the death of the general.
“You cannot relax anymore even at your home, and it is not unlikely that we will take revenge inside the house,” Ghaani said, speaking at a conference in Kerman, southeastern Iran, commemorating the slain Quds commander on Wednesday – his remarks cited by Tasnim.
“They cannot assassinate our hero and live in comfort afterwards,” Ghaani added.
We’re doing just fine, general. Thanks for asking.
He also tweeted out his love for
قبلا هم گفتیم و الان هم میگوییم؛ شکست شما و انتقام از شما شروع شده، شما درون خانههای خودتان هم دیگر نمیتوانید آرامش داشته باشید. بعید نیست که از درون خانههای خودتان انتقام گرفته شده است. pic.twitter.com/hnTS9RQemo
— سردار اسماعیل قاآنی (@EsQaani) January 6, 2021
This is the second time in less than a week that Ghaani has issued warnings to US officials. Last week, he hinted that actors inside the United States may independently “respond” to Soleimani’s killing, without elaborating.
In a related development, Iranian military officials have blasted the “terrorist and criminal” US military over its recent buildup in the region, and warned that the armed forces “have fingers on the trigger” to respond to any provocation.
With Trump on his way out, the Iranians didn’t think twice about making blood-curdling threats because they know that Joe Biden wants to be friends again and will reinstitute the Obama policy of “engagement” with Iran. Sure looks a lot like “surrender,” but what do we know?