Michael D’Andrea, head of CIA operations in Iran and who orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, was killed in a US plane crash over Afghanistan’s Ghanzi on Monday, Veterans Today (VT) reported, citing Russian intelligence sources.
VT described D’Andrea as the most prominent figure of the CIA intelligence in the region, adding that the plane, with US Air Force markings, had reportedly served as the CIA’s mobile command for D’Andrea.
After the news was reported by Veterans Today, Iranian news agency Tasnim relaunched the topic. Then, other Iranian outlet Mizan did. Lastly, British media (the Mirror and the Daily Mail) as well as Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post also reported the news.
Also known as Ayatollah Mike, the Dark Prince, and the Undertaker, D’Andrea was appointed head of the agency’s Iran Mission Center in 2017. Under his leadership, the agency was perceived to take a more aggressive stance toward Iran. He was also reportedly involved in the assassination of Hezbollah top military commander Imad Mughniyah in Damascus, Syria (2008).
On Monday, the Taliban announced to have shot down the plane, while the US has denied the claim but has acknowledged the loss of a Bombardier E-11A plane in central Afghanistan. Images online have already circulated purportedly showing some of the charred remains of those on board.
Retaliation to Suleimani?
The Middle East Monitor reported that Suleimani’s successor as head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, has established ties in Afghanistan going back to the 1980s, hinting out that the downing of the plane could be Iran’s retaliation to the assassination of Suleimani.
The media outlet also mentioned previous remarks by the chief commander of the IRGC, General Hossein Salami, who warned that no American military commanders will be safe if the US administration continues to threaten Iranian commanders.
D’Andrea CIA Record
D’Andrea, has been speculated to provide cover for CIA operations.
He also oversaw hundreds of drone strikes, which according to The New York Times “killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians”.
D’andrea is credited with being the mastermind behind the CIA’s notorious “signature strike” used to kill people based on their behavior, not identity, subsequently used to determine someone’s guilt or likelihood of being a “terrorist”.
He was central to the post-9/11 interrogation program and ran the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Assassinations and torture were central to his approach. He also oversaw the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.