Trump Downplays Brain Injuries in Iran Attack With Toll at 109
Russian intelligence sources have claimed that Michael D’Andrea, head of CIA operations in Iran and who orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US spy plane downed yesterday in Ghazni, Afghanistan.
The plane with US Air Force markings reportedly served as the CIA’s mobile command for D’Andrea, who earnt several nicknames including: Ayatollah Mike, the Dark Prince, and the Undertaker. He is one of the most prominent CIA figures in the region, appointed head of the agency’s Iran Mission Centre in 2017. Under his leadership, the agency was perceived to take a more “aggressive stance toward Iran”.
The Taliban claimed to have shot down the plane but have yet to provide evidence, whilst the US has denied the claim but has acknowledged the loss of a Bombardier E-11A plane in central Afghanistan. Graphic images online have already circulated purportedly showing some of the charred remains of those on board.
An exiled Iranian journalist who has written previously for the hard-line Javan daily newspaper suggested the IRGC was involved, tweeting: “The American Gulfstream plane was downed in Afghanistan by the Taliban. They say that intelligence officers were on board. This report has not yet been confirmed, but if it is, it is possible that the issue of Iran will also emerge in this case.”
Another Iranian journalist who writes for Mashregh newspaper, described as having close links to IRGC, tweeted not long after the news broke out: “We will attack them on the same level as they are attacking us.”
Soleimani’s successor as head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, has established ties in Afghanistan going back to the 1980s. Additionally, the chief commander of the IRGC, General Hossein Salami, warned that no American military commanders will be safe if the US administration continues to threaten Iranian commanders.