(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The US Central Intelligence Agency has appointed Michael D’Andrea as its new Iran operations chief, a man who previously oversaw the hunt for former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The CIA refuses to acknowledge the move but former and current agency officials have confirmed it, The New York Times reported Friday.
D’Andrea, who is around 60 years old, was directly responsible for the secret operation on May 2, 2011 to take out bin Laden at his residence in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan.
He is also known for leading the US military’s global drone program, which has killed thousands of people, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
The move further signals US President Donald Trump’s willingness to take a “hard line” with Iran, a pledge he made during his campaign run.
D’Andrea’s appointment also underscores the CIA’s tendency to take a more aggressive approach to espionage and covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, according to The Times.
“He can run a very aggressive program, but very smartly,” Robert Eatinger, a former CIA lawyer who also played a role in the drone campaign, told the daily.
The CIA refused to discuss the matter, noting that it never reveals the identity of its agents and clandestine officials.
The change of position bears special significance for the CIA since D’Andrea will be required to follow Trump and his official’s lead with regards to Iran, a country the new American head of state has recently referred to as “the number one terror state.”