TOP pentagon officials have reportedly been warned of an active threat against them on US soil following the killing of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani earlier this year.
FBI, CIA, and military officials were briefed on the active threat after a September 22 incident involving a senior leader at the defense department, federal officials said on Thursday.
Five senior US officials with knowledge of the event told NBC News onthat the Pentagon's top leaders are threatened both at home and abroad.
Some officials fear that the threat could possibly be retaliation for Soleimani's assassination by the US military in January, although the information provided didn't directly link the two.
The briefings included information that suggests the targets of the threat are US military leaders who were involved in the decision and operation to assassinate the Iranian general, officials said.
Also included was information about a list – compiled by enemies – of the names of US military leaders to be targeted, two senior officials told NBC.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has spent time in the Middle East and South Asia this week, but his trip has notably been shrouded in more secrecy than usual – which suggests that security concerns could be involved.
Reporters traveling with Esper were banned from reporting his visits to Bahrain – where he spent two nights – or Israel until he left both countries.
On the night of September 22, a senior Defense Department leader left the Pentagon in a government-owned black SUV driven by a member of his security group when a mysterious vehicle suddenly began to tail them, officials said.
The unknown driver, who was identified as an Iranian national, was reportedly in a car with Virginia license plates and closely followed the federal official for about five to seven miles.
At times, the person drove aggressively, according to officials who described a report on the incident that was written by the Pentagon.
The Pentagon and the FBI disagree on whether it was a serious attempt to target a senior DOD leader, officials said, noting that the Pentagon was more concerned.
The FBI investigated the incident and deemed it wasn't part of a larger threat to senior military leaders or connected directly to Iran, according to officials.
A senior administration official called the incident "concerning."
The security detail for the DoD leader who was followed last month eventually lost the trailing vehicle and changed routes, officials said.
But the Pentagon issued a Be on the Lookout alert, also known as a BOLO, which included photos of the driver and vehicle, as well as its plates.
Officials briefed on the incident included info on the driver's social media accounts, which showed he has friends in Iran and Afghanistan, according to two officials.
Officials were tight-lipped on whether the man was questioned or taken into custody.
"The Department of Defense takes seriously the safety of all of our personnel," said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
"We will not discuss intelligence regarding potential threats to senior leaders nor the range of force protection measures we have in place to address these threats."
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