Iran Says Soleimani Killing ‘True Example of State Terrorism’ as Assassination Anniversary Nears
18:52 GMT 27.12.2021 (Updated: 19:03 GMT 27.12.2021)
The US killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020. Iran retaliated by lobbing over a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases containing US troops, leaving over 100 American personnel with traumatic brain injuries and putting Tehran and Washington on the brink of war.
The assassination of Qasem Soleimani was an act of state terrorism and Iran will not rest until those who perpetrated the “heinous” crime are punished, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has said.
“The US action in assassinating Lt. Gen. Soleimani was a true example of a terrorist attack and state terrorism, organized by the US administration and designed and carried out by Donald Trump,” Khatibzadeh said at a press briefing on Monday, with his remarks cited by Iran Press.
“The US administration has an international responsibility for this heinous act, and Iran will not refrain from any action to bring the perpetrators and advisors of this terrorist act to justice,” the spokesman added.
Khatibzadeh stressed that the US decision to kill Soleimani, despite or perhaps because of the commander’s role in fighting terrorism across the Middle East, demonstrated the “double standards” and “falsehoods” of Washington’s claims about fighting a war on terror.
In addition to being a violation of human rights and international law, Soleimani’s murder was also “an act of aggression against the sovereignty” of Iraq, the spokesman added.
Qasem Soleimani commanded the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force extraterritorial fighting force for nearly 20 years, battling
Islamist groups ranging from the Taliban* and al-Qaeda** to Daesh (ISIS),** and partnering with a broad array of forces to do so, from the secular Syrian and Iraqi governments to Iraqi Shia militias and even US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces.
On 3 January 2020, Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chairman of the Baghdad-allied Popular Mobilization Committee militias formed to fight Daesh, were killed in a Reaper drone strike in Baghdad. Then-president Donald Trump ordered the attack after his aides told him that the commander was responsible for an Iraqi militia group’s deadly rocket attack on a Kirkuk military base housing US troops and mercenaries in December 2019 that killed a US contractor and injured four US troops. Soleimani and the militia were also blaimed for the 31 December 2019 attempted storming of of the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iraqi intelligence later concluded
that Daesh, not Soleimani or Iraqi militias, was likely responsible for the Kirkuk attack. The Trump administration subsequently changed its justifications for Soleimani’s killing several times, first claiming that he posed an “imminent threat”
to US troops and embassies in the region, but then admitting that there wasn’t any specific intelligence pointing to any specific Soleimani plots. Later, Trump told republican donors that Soleimani was killed in part because he was “saying bad things”
about the US and was a “noted terrorist.”
Trump has continued to brag about
“taking out” Soleimani, even after leaving office, recently claiming that the commander was “bigger by many, many times” than al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Iran has threatened to prosecute Trump and others it suspects of involvement in Soleimani’s assassination, issuing an arrest warrant against the US president in June 2020 and requesting Interpol assistance for his extradition. Iraq followed suit, with Baghdad’s investigative court putting an arrest warrant out on Trump
in January 2021.
Interpol has dismissed Iran’s pleas for assistance, citing
a supposed prohibition on the agency from undertaking “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.” Iran and the US do not have an extradition treaty.
In addition to Trump and senior administration officials, Iran suspects other actors, including a UK security firm
and its regional arch-enemy Israel of involvement in the murder. Last week, former Israeli military intelligence directorate chief Tamir Hayman made the unprecedented admission
that Israel was involved in the attack, hailing it as “an achievement.”
22 December 2021, 00:13 GMT
*An organization under UN sanctions over its terrorist activities.
**Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.