The Iranian assassination plot is a major escalation in Tehran's war on America. For three decades, the Iranian regime, the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, has murdered Americans abroad in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It has killed civilians in Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere. Because Iran has never faced serious consequences for its hostility, it is now willing to run a lethal operation on American soil.
The operation was likely authorized at the highest levels of the Iranian government. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei controls the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and The Quds Force, the special unit of the IRGC implicated in this operation. Khamenei has massively increased their military and economic power and their overseas operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. This was not a "rogue" operation.
From my colleague FDD Senior Fellow Emanuele Ottolenghi in Brussels, the author of a new book on the IRGC:
"The Quds Force is the regime's long arm abroad. They are involved in training terror groups abroad and supporting Iran's proxies financially and militarily. They are also directly responsible for a number of terror outrages abroad. They often operate from Iranian embassies, disguised as menial workers, administrative personnel or lowly diplomats.
They are part of the IRGC, hence they are bound by an oath of loyalty to the Supreme Leader. The decision to carry out such an attack is usually taken by or given approval by the final authority of the Supreme Leader himself. There is no question about where ultimate responsibility lies for this plot.
A plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in DC and blow up the Israeli embassy -- this is not something that 'a rogue element' has decided to carry out to undermine some supposed moderate camp that simply does not exist...This is something decided and approved from the highest echelons of the state and carried out with the active cooperation of Iranian embassies and missions abroad, possibly even in the US -- I would not be surprised if there were Qods agents seconded to Iran's mission to the UN."
For those who have followed the decades-long ties between Iran, the IRGC, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, and their cooperation in the killing of Americans, this escalation should not be a surprise. What will be a surprise to the Iranian regime is if the United States, in the face of a brazen attack on its capital, finally responds decisively.