By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The U.S. government provided Iran with a “private warning” about a terrorist threat within its borders ahead of a deadly attack earlier this month that killed more than 80 people, a U.S. official said on January 25.
The official said the U.S. government followed a long-standing “duty to warn” policy to warn governments against potential lethal threats.
“We provide these warnings in part because we do not want to see innocent lives lost in terror attacks,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity in an e-mail to RFE/RLconfirming a report earlier by the Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report about the warning.
Two explosions on January 3 at a memorial for U.S. of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General Qasem Soleimani in the southeastern city of Kerman were claimed by Islamic State (IS). The group said two of its members detonated their suicide vests, causing the explosions, which injured more than 280 people.
The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the information passed to Iran was “specific enough about the location and sufficiently timely” that it could have helped Tehran to thwart the attack or at least mitigate the death toll.
Officials with Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, the newspaper said.
The incident intensified fears of a widening conflict in the Middle East as Israel continues its war against the U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip and as Yemen-based Huthi rebels allied with Iran continue their attacks on Red Sea commercial shipping.
Soleimani was killed in what the U.S. called a “defensive” drone strike while he was traveling in a two-car convoy near Baghdad’s international airport on January 3, 2020. He was considered to be one of the most powerful men in Iran and the architect of Tehran’s foreign policy in the region at the time.