Air Traffic Controllers Hear Threat to Fly Plane Into US Capitol

Message alleges that attack will come Wednesday to avenge assassinated Iranian general Soleimani
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2021 6:31 AM CST
From NY, Threat to Fly Plane Into Capitol to Avenge Soleimani
In this March 16, 2017 photo, air traffic controllers work in the tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A year after a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, air traffic controllers in New York heard a chilling threat to Washington, DC. "We are flying a plane into the Capitol Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged," said the digitized voice recording, obtained by CBS News. It was heard on the high-frequency radio of JetBlue Airways Flight 2304 traveling from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to New York's JFK Airport on Tuesday, reports Newsweek. The message repeated once and the plane continued to its destination without issue. While Iranian officials have vowed revenge for Soleimani's Jan. 3, 2020 killing, ordered by President Trump, experts doubt Iran's involvement. Indeed, the broadcast was traced to within 20 nautical miles of the Long Island hamlet of North Sea, NY, according to a Department of Homeland Security report seen by Newsweek.

Iran did ask Interpol to issue a "red notice" for the arrests of nearly 50 US officials, including President Trump, on Tuesday, per NPR. (Interpol responded that it doesn't consider such requests in cases with political or military motivation.) But "the Iranian regime and its proxies would not telegraph plans and intentions relative to an attack" as this "would serve to harm their intentions," a former Joint Terrorism Task Forces law enforcement member tells Newsweek. The individual instead points to "someone associated with domestic groups trying to instill fear." While officials don't believe there is a credible threat to the Capitol as Congress counts electoral votes on Wednesday, an investigation is underway to determine how aviation frequencies were breached. Per CBS, such a breach could affect the instructions pilots receive about how and where to fly. (More terror threat stories.)

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