It has been revealed that the Iranian government was considering assassinating Lana Marks, the American ambassador to South Africa. With tensions between the United States and Iran mounting, this new information will likely usher in a new phase of escalation. broke the story late Sunday citing U.S. intelligence reports and statements from an unnamed U.S. government official familiar with the situation. The story was confirmed by another official who has seen the intelligence. According to a U.S. government official, the Iranian Embassy in Pretoria is involved in the assassination plot.

There are also reports that Iran is targeting the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Harry B. Harris. 

If the information is accurate, this would be a major escalation of the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

According to the intelligence in the report, Iran has been planning on taking out Marks for months. But intelligence operatives found that the threats had in recent weeks become more “specific.”

According to the report, the intelligence community issued a directive known as “Duty to Warn” which requires U.S. intelligence agencies to notify a potential target if intelligence indicates their life could be in danger. Marks has been made aware of the threat and the government is taking precautionary measures. 

Marks, 66, has been the ambassador to South Africa since last October. She was born in South Africa and speaks both Afrikaans and Xhosa. She is a very successful businesswoman and has been a personal friend of President Trump for many years. While, on the surface, she appears to be a strange target for assassination, intelligence analysts have said that the Iranians have a large proxy network in the country and an attack could be passed off as a local issue. Additionally, given her friendship to the President, the assassination would be a personal hit against Trump.

This alleged plot shows that Iran continues to seek retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed MG Qassem Soleimani in early January. After the retaliatory ballistic missile strike against a U.S. base, it was thought that each side has pulled back from violence against each other.