A US military source today said there were no CIA staff on a jet which crashed in Afghanistan on Monday after Iranian media claimed the officer behind Qassem Soleimani’s death was among those killed.
The source told the MailOnline the wild claim that Michael D’Andrea was aboard the jet which crashed in Dih Yak, or indeed that any CIA members had been killed, was absurd.
A US official earlier confirmed the bodies of two American personnel had been recovered from the crash site while denying Taliban claims the E-11A communications jet containing ‘high ranking officers’ had been shot down.
Iranian media had amplified the Taliban narrative, claiming 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’ – had been killed.
Iranian state TV even broadcast a photograph of Hollywood star Fredric Lehne – who played a CIA operative in the movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ – asserting that the actor was D’Andrea.
The Taliban said it was responsible for shooting down the aircraft, a Bombardier E-11A which is used by the US Air Force to carry out surveillance missions. The terror group further claimed they ambushed US and Afghan personnel arriving on the scene, however the US official today said the military were not met with resistance.
Among other spurious reports across Farsi channels was that up to 100 had died amid fanatical claims of retribution for the US strike on Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.
Iranian propaganda agency, Mehr News, 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 and was also carrying other high-ranking operatives.
D’Andrea’s name began to crop up frequently across Farsi news sites in the wake of the US drone strike which killed Soleimani.
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.’
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