Trump Targeted by Drone in Animated Video Leads Twitter to Ban Account Linked to Iran Leader

Twitter permanently banned an account linked to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday after it shared an animated video this week showing a robot and drone attempting to carry out a strike against former President Donald Trump.

Khamenei and Iranian leaders have repeatedly vowed to exact revenge against Trump after he ordered a January 2020 air strike to kill Iranian Lt. General Qasem Soleimani. The Khamenei account @KhameneiSite last week shared the animated video, classifying it as the best entry into a competition to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the military leader's assassination at the orders of the former U.S. president.

"The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy," a Twitter spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek on Saturday. Twitter first confirmed the decision to the BBC and then Fox Business, saying it had permanently blocked the @KhameneiSite account for sharing the clip.

"Twitter says @Khamenei_Site was banned in 2021 for creating fake accounts, among other things. However, tweets by that account were frequently retweeted by Khamenei's main accounts. None of the Iranian Supreme Leader's accounts are verified by Twitter," BBC journalist Kian Sharifi wrote in a Twitter thread on Saturday.

Sharifi noted that, "Twitter initially deleted the tweet containing the animation before permanently suspending the account." According to Twitter, it is the company's top priority to keep people safe and protect the health of the conversation on the social media platform.

Iranian leader
Twitter on Saturday banned an account linked to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after it shared an animated video appearing to threaten a drone strike against former President Donald Trump. Above, Khamenei wears a face mask after casting his ballot in Iran's presidential election on June 18, 2021. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

The clip tweeted by the Khamenei account starts off with an aerial view of Trump's Florida golf club. It then goes in closer to show animated characters that appear to be the former president and his associates playing a round of golf. The screen alternates to a scene of an individual wearing military camouflage typing on a computer, apparently readying a drone to strike Trump.

One of Trump's associates then receives a text message typed by the person wearing military fatigues. The message reads: "Soleimani's murder and the one who gave the order will pay the ultimate price." A nearby robot then shoots what appears to be a targeting laser, as the view shifts to what appears to be an aerial drone's targeting screen. It zooms in on the animated Trump as the word "READY" flashes in red.

In January 2021, another account linked to Khamenei shared a similar image, appearing to show a drone readying to attack Trump.

"Revenge is inevitable," the post by the account linked to the Iranian leader said. "Revenge must be taken on those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried it."

Although that Twitter post has been removed, other accounts for Khamenei remain active on the site. These other accounts are not affected at this time by the decision to ban the one account, according to the social media platform.

"In the enemy's thinking, the martyrdom of General #Soleimani was supposed to be a threat to us. However, the Muslim Iranian nation turned this threat into an opportunity. Not only was the Resistance Movement not extinguished, it has also increased as you can see," the Iranian leader tweeted from his @khamenei_ir account on January 9.

Trump's decision to assassinate Soleimani drew significant international criticism, as well as from U.S. lawmakers.

"With his [Soleimani's] death, do you think it's more or less likely that Iran and their militias and their proxies will attack the U.S.? I would argue that it's much more likely," Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said in January 2020 shortly after the killing.

"The president said he didn't want to perpetual war in the Middle East, but he's adding more and more troops. If you don't want perpetual war, you don't keep sending more targets over there," Paul said.

Notably, Trump himself was permanently banned by Twitter in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 attack against the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds of the then-president's supporters carried out the assault after he urged them to march to the legislative building and "fight like hell." That riot took place in an apparent effort to disrupt the formal certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them—specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter—we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter wrote in a blog post explaining that decision.