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Pompeo says US was right to kill Soleimani, ‘wouldn’t change a thing’ despite Iran’s revenge threats

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Sipa USA/TNS)
January 06, 2022

On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called for former-President Donald Trump and former-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be tried and convicted under Islamic law for the Jan. 3, 2020 U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Raisi said if Trump and Pompeo are not tried, Iran would pursue more acts of revenge for Soleimani’s death.

Pompeo responded to Raisi’s demands in an interview later that day on Fox News.

“Qasem Soleimani was actively engaged in plotting against America,” Pompeo tweeted alongside a clip of his interview segment with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We took lawful military action to make sure that no Americans were killed. American leadership now has the responsibility to keep every American safe against the threat from Iran.”

“I wouldn’t change a thing about what we recommended to the president,” Pompeo told Hannity in the interview. “We were defending the United States of America, we were keeping the American people safe.”

Pompeo then said Soleimani was actively engaged in efforts to target Americans. At the time of the U.S. drone strike, Soleimani was traveling through Baghdad with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Mohammed Reda, who were leaders in the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Iraqi militia.

In the days leading up to the U.S. strike, PMF forces had carried out a deadly rocket attack that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded U.S. service members in Iraq. Supporters of PMF also staged a riotous attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after U.S. forces launched strikes in retaliation for the deadly rocket attack.

Soleimani had been particularly supportive of Iranian-proxy attacks on U.S. forces throughout the region. Following his death, U.S. Army Gen. David Petreaus said Soleimani had shipped weapons and explosives to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, which were used to kill an estimated 600 U.S. service members over the years. During the interview, Pompeo also noted that Iran has been a top state sponsor of terrorism for years.

“To see President Raisi talking about putting President Trump and me on trial and, if that doesn’t work, having us assassinated, is deeply unprecedented,” Pompeo told Hannity.

In the past few days surrounding the two-year anniversary of Soleimani’s death, there has been an increase in rocket attacks and explosive “suicide drones” targeting bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, at least one drone shot down on Monday had the words “Leader’s revenge” and “Soleimani’s revenge” written on its wings. Explosive “suicide drones” have also become increasingly popular among Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups.