Who is Lana Marks? Iran plotting to assassinate US ambassador as revenge for Qassem Soleimani's death

The celebrity designer has known President Trump for over 20 years and is a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort


                            Who is Lana Marks? Iran plotting to assassinate US ambassador as revenge for Qassem Soleimani's death
(Getty Images)

Iran is reportedly considering an attempt to assassinate Lana J Marks, the United States ambassador to South Africa, according to US intelligence officials. Reports state that the alleged plot to assassinate Marks, 66, has been detailed in intelligence papers, which have been seen by the American government and intelligence officials. Reportedly, there have been threats against the ambassador since spring. However, intelligence details on the alleged plotting have come more specific in the past few weeks.

Marks, a South African-born American handbag designer, became the US ambassador last year in October. The 66-year-old, who is popularly known for her eponymous fashion brand Lana Marks, presented her diplomatic credentials to the South African government earlier this year, on January 28, 2020. Marks has also known President Donald Trump for over 20 years and is a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The designer was reportedly also among the few women in Princess Diana's inner circle months before her tragic death. Before Marks became a diplomat, she used to frequent celebrity social circles and was best known for her six-figure handbags, used by A-list actresses like Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslett and Charlize Theron.

Lana Marks attends the 2012 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall (Getty Images)

While it is not yet certain why Iran wishes to target Marks, speculation suggests that it could be because of her long-standing friendship with President Trump. An attack on Mark would make it personal for the president, reports state. The ambassador has reportedly been alerted of the threats against her. It is believed that the Iranian embassy in South Africa's executive capital Pretoria is involved in the alleged assassination plot, according to Politico. The outlet also suggested that an attack on Marks would act as a revenge attack after Trump decided to kill a powerful Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

The general was killed by a US drone strike in January. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the time of the attack, had said that the US killed Soleimani in an effort to re-establish a deterrent against Iran. US intelligence officials have suggested that attacking the ambassador in South Africa could be easier for Iran than targeting American diplomats in other parts of the world. The officials cited that in other countries, improved relations between the US, local police, and national intelligence services would make such an attack unsuccessful.

President Trump, after Soleimani's killing, had noted that the general had been plotting to attack American diplomatic missions. The Republican, in January, said: "They were looking to blow up our embassy. I can reveal I believe it probably would've been four embassies."

Meanwhile, the head of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, recently said that he had been expecting Iran to respond over the American presence in Iraq. "I do not know what the nature of that response will be, but we will certainly be ready for it, should it occur," McKenzie said. He also confirmed plans to cut the US troop presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of September this year.

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