Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force whom the U.S. assassinated in an airstrike, once threated to destroy all of President Donald Trump’s belongings.
“You know that this war will destroy all that you possess. You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic,” Soleimani uttered in a July 2018 speech, reported at the time by Al Alam.
“You know our power in the region and our capabilities in asymmetric war. We will act and we will work,” he reportedly added.
An airstrike killed Soleimani, architect of Iran’s regional security apparatus, at Baghdad’s international airport Friday, Iranian state television and three Iraqi officials said – an attack that is expected to draw severe Iranian retaliation against Israeli and American interests.
The Defense Department said Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
A statement released late Thursday by the Pentagon said the strike on Soleimani “was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, Iraqi officials said. The PMF media arm said the two were killed in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.
Citing a Revolutionary Guard statement, Iranian state television said Soleimani was “martyred” in an attack by U.S. helicopters near the airport, without elaborating.
President Donald Trump, who was vacationing at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, sent out a tweet of an American flag.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lauded the president for the strike in a statement. Risch said:
Congratulations to President Trump on his decisive action and the successful outcome. Qassem Suleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and his death presents an opportunity for Iraq to determine its own future free from Iranian control. As I have previously warned the Iranian government, they should not mistake our reasonable restraint in response to their previous attacks as weakness.
“The U.S. will always vigorously defend our interests and allies in the face of terrorist conduct and provocations.“On behalf of every American serviceman and servicewoman who has either been killed or injured due to an Iranian-provided IED or rocket in Iraq over the years, today justice was done. Suleimani was responsible for the weapons program that caused those casualties and injuries with the use of those treacherous and cowardly devices,” he went on to say.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.