Donald Trump threatens retaliation if Iran-backed groups target Americans


President Trump and top Iranian officials traded threats Wednesday evening and Thursday morning as tensions rise between the two countries during Mr. Trump’s final weeks in office.

Mr. Trump tweeted a photo of three rockets that were purportedly used in a Sunday attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The three rockets failed to explode during the assault, which killed one civilian and damaged parts of the American diplomatic complex inside Baghdad’s “green zone.”

“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” the president said in his Twitter message. “Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”

Iranian Foreign Minister JMohammad Javad Zarif responded just hours later, tweeting a photo of former President George W. Bush beneath the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

“@realDonaldTrump uses a worthless photo to recklessly accuse Iran,” Mr. Zarif said. “Last time, the US ruined our region over WMD fabrications, wasting $7 TRILLION & causing 58,976 American casualties. FAR WORSE this time. Trump will bear full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out.”

The dueling threats come as Mr. Trump prepares to exit the White House and his successor, President-elect Joseph R. Biden, signals that he’ll pursue a more diplomatic posture toward Iran, including an effort to rejoin an international nuclear pact with Tehran. Mr. Trump exited that agreement in 2018.

Tensions with Iran have been high throughout the president’s time in office. Those tensions reached the boiling point last January after the U.S. launched a missile strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was believed to have directed attacks by Iran-backed militias against American forces stationed in Iraq.

Iran responded with a missile strike on a U.S. air base in Iraq, a move that brought the two countries to the brink of all-out war. Both sides ultimately stood down.

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement on Wednesday blamed Iran for the creation of a website called “Enemies of the People,” which included death threats aimed at top American election officials. The apparent offensive by Tehran is another example of Iran’s efforts to target the U.S. both on the battlefield and in cyberspace.

The website contained the names, phone numbers and other personal information of election officials and private-sector companies involved with the 2020 election, the FBI said. Mr. Trump has disputed the results of the November election, though so far his efforts to overturn the results in key battleground states have failed.

The Electoral College formally affirmed Mr. Biden’s victory on Dec. 14.

Wednesday’s statement by the FBI makes clear that Iran is actively trying to attack the integrity of the U.S. voting system.

“The post-election creation of the Enemies of the People website demonstrates an ongoing Iranian intent to create divisions and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the U.S. electoral process,” the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a press release.

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