President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in Iraq on Thursday that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most senior members of the Iranian government.
Since 1998, Soleimani had been the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been the terrorist arm of the Iranian regime.
“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London,” Trump said Friday. “Today, we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities, and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.”
The Revolutionary Guard is charged with carrying out terrorist activities outside Iran’s borders, as the country seeks to expand its regional influence in the Middle East.
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump added.
Here are five things to know about the fallen terrorist leader.
- How Was Soleimani a Direct Threat to Americans?
Soleimani orchestrated a series of attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq in the past several months, culminating in a rocket attack on Dec. 27 that killed an American citizen, wounded four U.S. service members, and threatened the lives of many more American personnel.
Soleimani also ordered the recent assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, according to the State Department.
He supported lethal assistance to the Revolutionary Guard proxy groups that targeted and killed more than 600 Americans between 2003 and 2011.
The State Department confirmed on Friday that Soleimani was traveling in the Middle East, coordinating further “imminent large-scale attacks against U.S. diplomats and service members.” It added, “Threats were highly credible, and the intelligence is sound.”
2. Where Did Soleimani’s Terrorism Strike?
The Revolutionary Guard Corps—under Soleimani’s direction—planned, and conducted terrorist attacks across six continents and inside the United States, according to the State Department.
Soleimani was directly responsible for arming, funding, and training Iranian proxy groups—or militias—in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, leading to the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands, the State Department said.
Moreover, Iranian proxies regularly target and kill civilians and inflame existing sectarian conflicts.
3. What Actions Did He Take in Iraq?
The State Department says that Soleimani personally directed and provided arms to militias in Iraq for more than a decade, both during the Iraq war and as the U.S. military presence was winding down in the country.
The Iran-backed militias threatened Iraq’s security forces and have targeted American citizens, diplomats, and military forces.
4. What Were His International Terrorist ‘Credentials’?
The State Department, the United Nations, and the European Union have roundly condemned the general over the years.
The United Nations and European Union also sanctioned Soleimani. He was banned from international travel by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 in 2016. Soleimani defied the U.N. resolution and continued traveling to work with terrorist militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
The European Union condemned him in a resolution in 2011 for supporting the Syrian regime of dictator Bashar Assad.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747 in 2007 sanctioned Soleimani for his involvement in the Iranian nuclear program.
5. Were Prior Presidents Concerned About Soleimani?
Trump said Friday, “What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago.”
The State Department, under the Trump administration, designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization for its activities in 2019.
Though not militarily, Soleimani had been the target of the wrath of previous presidents of both parties.
Trump’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, signed Executive Order 13224 designating Soleimani as a “specially designated global terrorist.” Obama also signed Executive Order 13572 calling the general out for human rights abuses in 2011.
President George W. Bush, a Republican, signed Executive Order 13882 in 2007 that imposing sanctions blocking access to assets and property of weapons distributors that provided material support to terrorists, including the general.
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