REPUBLICAN Senator Tom Cotton has praised Donald Trump’s decision to order the killing of Qasem Soleimani, saying politicians don’t understand the threat he posed.
Cotton, himself a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, claimed to have seen intelligence that left “no doubt” Soleimani was plotting a large attack in the near future.
Soleimani, a commander in the Revolutionary Guard and among the most powerful figures in Iran, was killed in a targeted US air strike on January 3.
The killing was a response to an attack on the US embassy in Iraqi capital Baghdad by Iranian-backed militia, and according to the Defence Department was intended to deter planned attacks.
Speaking as a guest on Mark Levin’s Life, Liberty, & Levin on Sunday, Cotton said: “Qasem Soleimani was a sadistic terrorist mastermind.
“He is largely responsible for [Syrian president] Bashar al-Assad still being in power and killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
“There is no doubt – I have seen the intelligence – that he was plotting something large and something very dangerous, whether it happened in a matter of weeks or a matter of days.
“The question of whether an attack is imminent or not, I got to say, looks very different if you’re a solider sitting in Iraq than if you’re some comfortable senator sitting behind armed guards in Washington DC.”
‘SHOULD HAVE DONE IT A LONG TIME AGO’
Since 1998, Soleimani had served as head of the Quds Force, a division within the Revolutionary Guard responsible for military activity outside of Iran and other intelligence operations.
He was widely considered to be the second most powerful person in Iran after the Ayatollah Khamenei.
Forces under his command are known to have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians across the Middle East, but his assassination drew criticism amid fears it would lead to an escalating conflict between Iran and the US.
The strength of the intelligence suggesting that he was planning an imminent attack has also been questioned.
Cotton continued: “If you’ve got a chance to take a mastermind like Qasem Soleimani off the battlefield, you take it, and I commend the president for doing so.
“We should have done it a long time ago.”
Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing by launching missile strikes on two Coalition bases in Iraq.
Iranian state television later claimed the attacks had killed 80 “American terrorists”, while the ayatollah proclaimed them a success, but the US government and Iraqi military later confirmed that no casualties had been suffered.
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