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U.S. intel says Iran may be targeting U.S. Ambassador Lana Marks for assassination

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U.S. intelligence officials revealed on Sunday that U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, may be the target of an assassination plot by Iran as retaliation for the U.S. strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

“Marks, 66, was sworn in as U.S. ambassador last October,” says Politico. “She’s known Trump for more than two decades and has been a member of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Critics of Trump have derided her as a ‘handbag designer’, but her supporters retort that she is a successful businesswoman — her eponymous handbags run as much as $40,000 — with numerous international connections. A personal friend of the late Princess Diana, she also was born in South Africa and speaks some of the country’s key languages, including Afrikaans and Xhosa.”

Marks has no known ties to Iran that would make her an obvious target of an assassination by the regime in Tehran, but her close ties to President Trump may be the reason why she’s come to the attention of the mullahs.

The Daily Mail says that Iranian ties to radical movements in South Africa and the reluctance of police to deter terrorism there are also likely reasons why Iran would target Marks in South Africa.

“Intelligence officials have also suggested that carrying out an attack in South Africa could be easier than targeting American diplomats in other parts of the world where improved relationships between the U.S. and local police and national intelligence services could see an attack foiled,” says the U.K. tabloid.   

Iran has been threatening to take action against the U.S. since the drone strike on Soleimani at the Baghdad airport in January where he was meeting to help coordinate attacks on American interests in the Middle East.

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement,” according to CNN.

Iran denied that they have targeted Marks.

“Such baseless claims are part of the Trump administration’s intelligence campaign against Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday in a statement according to the National Post.

“Marks is a South African-born American businesswoman best known for the Lana Marks fashion brand and its luxury handbags. Her handbags typically cost north of $100,000 and are regularly seen in the hands of celebrities during award shows and formal events,” says the IBTimes.

“Arguably her brand’s most famous public endorsement came during the 2007 Academy Awards when Helen Mirren accepted the Best Actress Oscar while clutching a Lana Marks handbag. Other celebrities seen with Lana Marks handbags at similar events include Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, and Chinese actress Li Bingbing.”

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