By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) The late Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was living on borrowed time, according to U.S. officials, because President Trump authorized his targeting back in June.
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The order came after forces led by Soleimani shot down a U.S. drone, but Trump tied the targeting of the al Quds Force commander to the death of any American,Â and with the condition that he would have the final sign-off on any targeting operation.
U.S. officials also said that the president issued his order on the urging of then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to NBC News:
That decision explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq, in whichÂ a U.S. contractor was killedÂ and four U.S. service members were wounded, the officials said.
The timing, however, could undermine the Trump administration’sÂ stated justificationÂ for ordering the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have said Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.
“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” a senior administration official said, adding that it was “some time ago” that the president’s aides put assassinating Soleimani on the list of potential responses to Iranian aggression.
After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, officials said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to authorize the assassination, officials said.
But Trump rejected the idea, saying he’d take that step only if Iran crossed his red line: killing an American. The president’s message was “that’s only on the table if they hit Americans,” according to a person briefed on the discussion.
The fact is, Soleimani had been tracked for years. Shortly after Pompeo was sworn in as the president’s first CIA director, he urged Trump to take a more aggressive poster against the terrorism master.
The president did say last week that intelligence indicated Soleimani was planning new attacks against American installations in Iraq, which Democrats and their insane Left-wing base immediately rejected because they rejectÂ everything Trump says.
But the fact of the matter remains Soleimani was always plottingÂ somethingÂ in terms of disrupting American foreign policy objectives and killing American forces. It was time for him to go; he crossed a red line that President Trump enforced, unlike his predecessor.
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