On Friday, the U.S. military carried out a strike at the Baghdad International Airport ordered by President Trump that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani. It is believed that Soleimani was in Iran overseeing the attacks against U.S. assets including the riots that breached the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
“At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Soleimani became head of the Quds Force in 1998 and was responsible for carrying out operations beyond Iran’s borders. Soleimani was an ally of Syrian despot President Bashar al Assad and the Houthis in Yemen. A report by the State Department earlier this year concluded Iranian forces were responsible for killing 608 U.S. troops during the Iraq War. According to the State Department, 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 were carried out under Soleimani’s personal direction.
The Pentagon said that Soleimani was planning attacks on American diplomats and soldiers in Iraq when he was killed on Friday.
“General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “General Suleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
“He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”
In an uncharacteristically anti-bombastic manner, the U.S. President announced the elimination of the threat with a tweet that simply displayed the American flag.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
An American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired several rockets Soleimani landed at the airport and was being greeted by several terrorist VIPs in two vehicles. The attack killed a total of seven people, officials said, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. An official with the Popular Mobilization Forces said its airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, also died.
The enemies of the U.S. also saw Israel as being guilty of the attack against Soleimani who was also responsible for Iran’s military encroachment into Syria.
“The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,” Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias, told Reuters.
Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett called a special meeting on Friday and it was reported that the IDF was on high alert in the wake of the American attack.
The Israel connection was also noted by Senator Ted Cruz in a more positive light.
It is also long-overdue justice for our Israeli allies who have suffered decades of terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists commanded by his IRGC Quds Force.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 3, 2020
Soleimani was in charge of the Iranian government killing hundreds of protesters last month. Because of this, a counterintuitive result of the killing of Soleimani might be increased support for the U.S. in Iran, as seen in a tweet by Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad.
IMPORTANT: For many Iranians Qassem Soleimani was a warmonger who caused massive casualties in Syria. He was no hero to average Iranians who chanted against the country’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas 1/
— Masih Alinejad ️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 3, 2020
Taking out Soleimani firmly establishes President Trump as the biggest threat to global terrorism the world has seen in a long time. The Islamic State (ISIS) took control of a large section of the Middle East during the administration of former President Barack Obama, who referred to the horrific terrorist organization dismissively as a “JV (junior varsity) team.” Since Trump took office, ISIS has become all but extinct and has effectively stopped all terrorist activities. In October, Trump ordered a raid that killed ISIS founder Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
Iranian state TV carried a statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday who warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting.”
“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission,” the statement said, “but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.”
Khamenei declared three days of national mourning for the general who he called “the international face of resistance.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the killing an act of “terrorism.”
The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020
Political experts considered the killing of Soleimani to be a huge blow to global terrorism. National Washington Correspondent Joyce Karam tweeted, “Hard to understate how big this is.”
Hard to understate how big this is
• Qassem Suleimani is Iran’s most powerful mil figure in Region
• He runs Iran’s proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq
• Both men designated by US as Terrorist
• Muhandis was at US embassy attack protest, calls himself “Suleimani soldier”
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 3, 2020
Free Beacon writer Noah Pollack called the hit “a bigger deal for the Middle East than the bin Laden raid or the killing of Mughniyeh in 2008.”
If this is true, and I hope it is, it’s a bigger deal for the Middle East than the bin Laden raid or the killing of Mughniyeh in 2008. A much, much bigger deal. https://t.co/pKrhBCbOvM
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) January 3, 2020
AJC Global analyst Julie Lenarz tweeted her agreement.
If you multiply the death of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi you begin to understand the significance of Soleimani’s death.
This man controlled the most powerful state-controlled army of terror.
— Julie Lenarz (@MsJulieLenarz) January 3, 2020