A US lawmaker said on Friday that “the Iranian threat, which was spotted by the US intelligence – and ignited the region and caused the spread of US military in the Middle East and the escalation of tension throughout the region – was very specific and includes the possibility of kidnapping and killing US soldiers”.
US Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who is a senior Republican on the House at the Foreign Affairs Committee, told US Today on intelligence that prompted the Pentagon to deploy an aircraft carrier, along with B 52 bombers and other military forces, in the Middle East: “To the extent that I can discuss it was by the intelligence”.
Trump officials said the move was taken to counter what they called “credible threats from Iran to US forces in the region”.
“US intelligence officials have learned that the commander of the Iranian Quds Brigade, which is one of the units in the Iranian armed forces, met the Iranian militias by proxy and said: “We’re preparing to wage a proxy war and target the Americans”.
He said the same message had been handed over to a group affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah.
“One of Hezbollah’s cells is known for kidnappings and killings”, McCaul said.
“The directive was to enter, kill and kidnap American soldiers”.
McCaul made the comments in a short interview with USA TODAY after remarks on US foreign policy at Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institution.
In the same context, the British newspaper The Guardian earlier reported some details of the threat, quoting unnamed sources.
The commander of the Iranian Quds Brigade, Major General Qassem Soleimani, is a very strong figure both inside the country and across the region.
Experts say he helped Iran expand its sphere of influence through proxy forces in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria”.
According to a former FBI agent, he handled several prominent terrorism cases in an analysis last fall Ali Sufan: “Without a doubt, Soleimani is the most powerful general in the Middle East today”.
“More than anyone else, Soleimani was responsible for creating an arc of influence – which Iran described as the” axis of resistance “stretching from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
So far, top Trump officials, including Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo, have said the United States has specific and credible threats that Iran or its proxies might be preparing for attacks against US forces or US targets in the region, but gave no details.
In addition to deploying troops to the Pentagon, the State Department on Wednesday ordered all non-essential staff to leave Iraq immediately.
The United States has more than 5,000 troops based in Iraq.
US Today said McCall “didn’t directly respond to a question about new reports suggesting that increased aggressive moves by Iran and the United States may have been driven by a misreading of intelligence threats”.
Iranian officials believe the United States is planning an attack and have prompted Tehran to prepare for possible counter-attacks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
US intelligence officials may have misread Iranian countermeasures as an aggression, the Journal reported, noting that there are divisions within the Trump administration over the meaning of intelligence gathered in recent weeks.
The State Department declined to comment on McCaul’s remarks or the Wall Street Journal story.
The spokesman for National Intelligence Director Dan Coats didn’t immediately answer questions on these matters.