- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2020

President Trump said Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was planning to kill more Americans when the U.S. killed him in a drone strike Thursday night, and an ally of the White House said the Iranian was plotting a coup in Iraq.

In his first public comments on the attack that has prompted Iran to vow revenge, Mr. Trump said Soleimani should have been killed long ago.

“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself.”


SEE ALSO: Iran’s leader vows ‘severe revenge,’ while Democrats question the legality of U.S. strike


Neither the president nor his top advisers have revealed what Suleimani was plotting. Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Soleimani “spent the last few days coordinating imminent attacks against American citizens, allies & interests.”

“At the direction of #Iran’s Supreme Leader, Soleimani was plotting a coup in #Iraq,” Mr. Rubio said on Twitter. “He was corrupting/threatening politicians, exploiting Iraq’s resources & bringing a large military force loyal to him, in an effort to make Iraq a platform to attack the U.S. & our allies.”



Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News that he was briefed on a “potential operation” against Soleimani when he visited the president at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in the past few days.

“I was aware of what his options were, they [Iranians] were about to unleash holy hell on our people in Iraq and throughout the region, and the president decisively took action,” Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Rubio pushed back on the notion that Soleimani was “assassinated,” saying the general “was killed on the battlefield during active operations.” He also said Soleimani was in Iraq in violation of a 2007 U.N. Security Council travel ban.

The president said most Iranians aren’t sorry that Soleimani was killed.

“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country,” Mr. Trump said. “They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!”

The president also said the U.S. for too many years has tried to negotiate with Iran.

Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News that he was briefed on a “potential operation” against Soleimani when he visited the president at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in the past few days.

“I was aware of what his options were, they [Iranians] were about to unleash holy hell on our people in Iraq and throughout the region, and the president decisively took action,” Mr. Graham said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, pointed out that Soleimani, as commander of Iran’s Quds force, “led Iran’s worldwide terrorist efforts.” Soleimani was killed in Iraq, where militants have been attacking military bases housing U.S. personnel and also have stormed the U.S. Embassy.

“Hopefully, his death sends a message to those in control of Iran that there is a price to be paid for being the number one state sponsor of terrorism,” Mr. Blunt said.

Former White House National Security Adviser John R. Bolton said Friday that he hopes the assassination of Soleimani “is the first step to regime change in Tehran.”

“Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani,” said Mr. Bolton, a hardliner who was ousted from his White House post last fall. “Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide.”

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