(AP) Iran has made threats against Fort McNair, an Army post in the US capital, and against the Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff, two senior US intelligence officials have said.
They said communications intercepted by the National Security Agency in January showed that Iranian Revolutionary Guards discussed mounting USS Cole-type attacks on the army post, referring to the suicide bombing. in October 2000 when a small boat stopped next to the navy destroyer in the Yemeni port. Aden and exploded, killing 17 sailors.
Intelligence also revealed threats to kill General Joseph M. Martin and plans to infiltrate and monitor the facility, according to officials, who were not authorized to discuss national security matters publicly and have turned away. expressed on condition of anonymity. The army post, one of the oldest in the country, is the official residence of the Martins.
Threats are one of the reasons the military has pushed for more security around Fort McNair, which sits next to Washington’s bustling new Waterfront.
City leaders fought against the Armies’ plan to add a buffer zone approximately 250 to 500 feet (75 to 150 meters) from the shore of the Washington Canal, which would limit access to half of the width of the busy waterway. parallel to the Potomac River.
The Pentagon, the National Security Council and the NSA did not respond or declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
As District of Columbia officials fought to tighten security along the canal, the military offered only vague information about threats to the facility.
In a virtual meeting in January to discuss the proposed restrictions, Army Maj. Gen. Omar Jones, commander of the Washington Military District, cited credible and specific threats against military leaders who live at the military post. . The only specific security threat he presented concerned a swimmer who ended up at the facility and was arrested.
Of the. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the only district representative in Congress, was skeptical. As far as swimmers go, I’m sure this must be rare. Did he know where he was? Maybe he was just swimming and found his way to your shore? she said.
Jones admitted the swimmer was not a good example there, but our most recent example of a security breach.
He said the military had increased patrols along the shore, erected more restricted area signs and placed cameras to monitor the Washington Canal.
Puzzled city officials and frustrated residents said the Armies’ demand for the buffer zone was a government overrun of public waterways.
Discussions over the Fort McNair proposal began two years ago, but recent intelligence gathered by the NSA has prompted military officials to renew their demand for restrictions.
The intercepted chatter involved members of the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard of Iran and centered on potential military options to avenge the US murder of former Quds leader General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020 , said the two intelligence officials.
They said Tehran’s military commanders were not happy with their counterattacks so far, especially the results of the ballistic missile attack on Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq within days. that followed the murder of Soleimanis. No U.S. service personnel were killed in the strike, but dozens suffered concussions.
Norton told the PA that in the two months following the January meeting, the Pentagon did not provide him with any additional information that would justify the restrictions around Fort McNair.
I asked the Defense Department to withdraw the rule because I saw no evidence of a credible threat that would support the proposed restriction, Norton said. They have tried to be successful, but their proposal is more restrictive than necessary.
She added: I have a security clearance. And they have yet to show me any classified evidence that would justify the proposition. Norton pointed out that the Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, which also have access to the district’s waters, do not have restricted areas along their shores and have not requested them.
The proposed changes, described in a Federal Register notice, would prohibit people and boats from anchoring, mooring, or loitering in the restricted area without permission.
The advisory specifies the need for security around the marine helicopter squadron, which carries American presidents, and the general and staff officers’ quarters located at the water’s edge. The southern tip of Fort McNair is home to the National War College, where middle and senior level officers fight for the admiral or study national security strategy in general.
The Washington Canal is the site of one of the city’s main urban renewal efforts, with new restaurants, luxury accommodations, and concert halls. The waterway flows from the meeting point of the two main rivers of the city, the Potomac and the Anacostia.
It is home to three marinas and hundreds of boat slides. About 300 people live aboard their boats in the canal, according to Patrick Revord, director of technology, marketing and community engagement for the Wharf Community Association.
The canal is also teeming with water taxis, which serve 300,000 people each year, river cruises that welcome 400,000 people per year and around 7,000 kayakers and paddleboarders per year, Revord said at the meeting.
Residents and city officials say the restrictions would create dangerous conditions by narrowing the canal for larger ships crossing the waterway alongside smaller motorboats and kayakers.
Guy Shields, a retired Army infantry colonel and member of the Capitol Yacht Club who opposes restrictions around Fort McNair, told the meeting that waterway restrictions would not enhance safety.
These buoys will do nothing to improve safety. This will increase congestion in an already congested area, Shields said. And I will say the signs don’t stop people with bad intentions.
It is not known whether the new intelligence will change the city’s opposition to the Army security plan. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Iranian state media did not immediately recognize the PA report.
LaPorta reported from Boca Raton, Florida. Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed to this report.
Contact the PA Global Investigation Team at [email protected]
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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