Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plans to assassinate President Donald Trump, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei wrote on Sunday. The assassination threat comes as Iran’s influence in the Middle East appears at its lowest level in decades, with the Arab Persian Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) working with Trump to normalize relations with Israel, Iran’s hated enemy.
“As the killer of our martyred general Qassem Soleimani, Mr. Trump should be assured that for the rest of his dirty and shameful life, he will be a key target of the Revolutionary Guards in their efforts to get revenge from the perpetrators of the martyrdom of our beloved general,” Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of the state-run newspaper Kayhan, wrote. Shariatmadari is a confidant of Khamenei and served in the IRGC himself.
“It makes no difference whether [Trump] remains President or not! He himself admitted that he is the murderer of the martyred general, and he knows that the IRGC will never give up in getting revenge for the blood of martyr Soleimani,” Shariatmadari added.
London-based Iran reporter M. Hanif Jazayeri shared an English translation of the threat, tagging the Secret Service, Donald Trump Jr., and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
🛑Representative of Iran regime's Supreme Leader today claims IRGC will kill @realDonaldTrump
As Gen Soleimani's killer, Mr Trump should know he will be a key target of the IRGC. It makes no difference if he remains President or not!
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) September 20, 2020
Shariatmadari made his threat one day after the head of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, threatened to go after everyone who had a role in Soleimani’s death.
The U.S. moved to restore sanctions against Iran for its nuclear developments last week, but other members of the United Nations have attempted to block this move. President Trump’s decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal Barack Obama negotiated has left the Islamic Republic more vulnerable.
The U.S. assassinated Soleimani, who led Iran’s terrorism efforts in the Middle East and has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, days after Iran-backed militias besieged the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, reportedly on Soleimani’s orders.
After the strike, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowed “severe revenge,” but the regime’s efforts have failed. Iran fired missiles at U.S. assets, but the country also shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing its 176 passengers (82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, 7 Afghans, and 3 British citizens), sparking protests in the streets of Tehran. Iran petitioned INTERPOL to demand an arrest warrant for Trump over Soleimani’s death, but INTERPOL refused. An Iranian issued an $80 million bounty on Trump’s head, to no avail as yet.
Last week, U.S. intelligence reports suggested that Iran is planning to assassinate U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks.
While Iran’s efforts have failed so far, the Islamic Republic may grow increasingly dangerous in its desperation. Before Soleimani’s death and the recent protests, Iran faced protests last November after the country reduced fuel subsidies by 50 percent and instituted rationing, in part due to pressure from the Trump administration after America withdrew from the Iran deal.
Then the coronavirus pandemic came, just before parliamentary elections. Tehran appears to have suppressed information about the coronavirus in order to avoid a low turnout in the elections. Voting fell to the lowest level since 1979, and Khamenei accused the country’s enemies of exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus right before the election.
The outbreak appears to have begun in Qom, the mullahs’ spiritual center. Satellite images from space showing mass graves appear to have confirmed the opposition’s claims that Tehran has vastly under-reported the death count from the coronavirus pandemic. This past weekend, Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a 24-hour period, at 163. The true number is likely higher.
Iran’s opposition party is also mobilizing. It hosted a virtual global summit in July.
There are also heartening signs that Soleimani’s death has paved a new future for the Middle East. Trump’s historic deal with the UAE has precipitated further rapprochement between Israel and Muslim countries. Two European countries — one of them majority Muslim — agreed to open embassies in Jerusalem. These Arab countries arguably would not be moving in Israel’s direction if Soleimani still led Iran’s terror efforts in the Middle East.
President Trump has achieved the impossible in the Middle East, and the death of Soleimani figures a great deal in that success. An increasingly desperate Iran wants revenge, and the Secret Service should indeed take these threats seriously.
Americans should also interpret these threats as more proof that Trump is succeeding in holding Iran accountable where Obama failed. Trump’s transformation of the Middle East will not succeed long term if Joe Biden wins in November.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.