Air traffic controllers in New York receive 9/11-like threat to US Capitol over Soleimani killing

A digitized voice warned via radio that an airplane would hit the US Capitol on Wednesday.

al-monitor One of the control towers stands at LaGuardia Airport after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it is delaying flights into multiple airports due to staffing concerns related the government shutdown on Jan. 25, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York City.  Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Jan 6, 2021

Air traffic controllers in New York and at least one passenger aircraft on Monday picked up a threat broadcast via radio Monday that warned of a 9/11-style attack on the United States Capitol in an incident that remains under investigation.

“We are flying a plane into the Capitol on Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged,” a digitized voice said, according to audio obtained by CBS News.

A passenger flight en route to New York picked up a nearly identical message, Newsweek reported.

National security officials have told reporters that the threat does not appear serious at this time, but that it remains under investigation.

Investigators at the Department of Homeland Security found the warning was broadcast from within 20 nautical miles of a small town in eastern Long Island. The town, North Sea, lies some 70 miles east of New York City.

"My personal take is a non-credible threat, but Capitol police, DHS and FBI are acting on it," Newsweek cited an anonymous US intelligence official as saying.  Another former official reportedly said the threat did not fit with the modus operandi of Iran or its proxy forces in the Middle East.

The threat came just a day after the one-year anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani, who commanded the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was an architect of Iran’s burgeoning military and intelligence support for proxy militias across the Middle East.

President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed Soleimani and nine other people outside Baghdad International Airport in retaliation for a previous militia rocket strike that killed an American military contractor.

US government agencies and the Department of Defense were briefed about the recorded threat Tuesday.

The threat, which appeared to reference the US Congress, would coincide with the day lawmakers were set to certify the results of the Electoral College in the 2020 presidential election.

Throngs of protesters descended on Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday to support outgoing President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.

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