An Iranian news agency has claimed a CIA chief who helped plan the assassination of general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a plane crash yesterday in Afghanistan.
The highly dubious report comes after the Pentagon yesterday denied its E-11A communications jet had been shot down by the Taliban, but stated it had crashed in the Dih Yak district.
The US gave no details of casualties but Iranian media and Kremlin-linked news sites have claimed that among the dead was Michael D’Andrea, a CIA boss credited with hunting down Osama bin Laden, known as the ‘Dark Prince’ and ‘Ayatollah Mike.’
Iranian agency, Mehr News, reported on Tuesday that D’Andrea, who played ‘a pivotal role in many acts of terror, including the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani,’ was killed.
It cited the pro-Kremlin website Veterans Today, which quoted Russian intelligence sources claiming D’Andrea had been killed and vital intelligence aboard the jet seized.
It claimed that the jet was not a standard US communications plane, but D’Andrea’s mobile command centre.
D’Andrea’s name began to crop up frequently across Farsi channels in the wake of the US drone strike which killed Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.
According to Iran’s Tasnim agency – which has strong links to the IRGC – ‘D’Andrea is the most prominent figure in the US CIA in the Middle East.’
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed yesterday that several high-ranking American officers were among the dead after the plane came down at 1.10pm local time.
US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there were no indications that the plane was brought down by enemy fire.