President Barack Obama’s administration reportedly warned Iranian leadership five years ago about an impending assassination attempt against Qassemi Soleimani, the Iranian military commander killed in a U.S. air strike last week.
Citing a report from Al-Jariya, a Kuwaiti daily newspaper, Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported in January of last year that Israel was “on the verge” of assassinating Soleimani in 2015.
According to Al-Jariya, the U.S. “thwarted” Israel’s attempt on Soleimani’s life by “revealing that Israel was closely tracking the Iranian general.”
The incident “sparked a sharp disagreement between the Israeli and American security and intelligence apparatuses regarding the issue,” according to Al-Jariya.
In the aftermath of the air strike that caused Soleimani’s death, which was carried out at the express direction of President Donald Trump on Thursday, conservatives have favorably contrasted the Trump administration’s arguably less conciliatory approach to Iranian aggression with that of his predecessors.
Soleimani, 62, was Iran’s pre-eminent military leader – head of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas Quds Force and the architect of Iran’s spreading influence in the Middle East.
“Obama sent this guy pallets of cash, Trump sends a Reaper,” a popular pro-Trump Twitter account tweeted following news that Soleimani had been killed.
Obama sent this guy pallets of cash, Trump sends a Reaper https://t.co/aWOFatbhUb
— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) January 3, 2020
The message was retweeted nearly 3,000 times and garnered more than 8.5 thousand “likes.”
The Obama administration was heavily criticized by conservatives for secretly arranging in Jan. 2018 to deliver $400 million in cash to Iran as part of the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump turns up the heat on Iran
In a series of tweets Saturday, the president threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Tehran attacks Americans or U.S. assets.
Iran, Trump wrote, “is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets” in revenge for Soleimani’s death. Trump said the United States has “targeted 52 Iranian sites” and that some were “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
“The USA wants no more threats!” Trump said, adding that the 52 targets represented the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days after being seized at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 – an enduring sore spot in U.S.-Iranian relations.
Trump did not identify the sites. The Pentagon referred questions about the matter to the White House, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As hundreds of thousands mourned Soleimani in the streets of Iran Sunday, lawmakers in the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel the United States troops from the country.
- Qassem Soleimani.: Screen grab