Multiple air traffic controllers in New York received the terror message on restricted channels on Monday, which said: “We are flying a plane into the Capitol Wednesday. Soleimani will be avenged.”
The digitized voice recording, obtained by CBS News on Tuesday, references Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone attack ordered by President Donald Trump last year.
The voice warned of a strike on the Capitol on the same day that Congress is set to count the Electoral College votes that would make President-elect Joe Biden’s victory official.
While the threat was not considered credible, it raises fears around how vulnerable US airspace communications may be to hacking.
Authorities are investigating the incident as a breach of aviation frequencies and the threat would be considered a crime.
In addition, the disruption worries experts because it could affect the instructions that pilots receive on where and how to fly airplanes, according to CBS News.
Air traffic controllers have been told to report any unusual activity, including planes deviating from their flight paths, sources told CBS News’ Chief Justice and Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues.
Soleimani, who belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed on Jan. 3, 2020.
Several days later, Trump remarked: “You look over this past, he’s been called a monster and he was a monster and he’s no longer a monster—he’s dead.”
However, Iranian officials have vowed revenge on Soleimani’s death.
On Tuesday, Iran asked Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) to issue a “red notice” for law enforcement agencies worldwide to arrest Trump and two dozen American officials responsible for the drone strike that killed Soleimani, Al Jazeera reported.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is very seriously following up on pursuing and punishing those who ordered and executed this crime,” said Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.
Interpol in June rejected a warrant issued by Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr for the arrest of Trump and other American officials on “murder and terrorism charges.”
On Tuesday, Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran.
The Pentagon and other federal agencies were briefed on the voice recording on Tuesday.
Law enforcement officials are working with agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on investigating the incident.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has not commented on the matter specifically but told CBS News that it takes “all threats of violence to public safety seriously.”