Direct hit on terror leader spawns threat of retaliation


Source: One News Now, By J.M. Phelps, January 3, 2020

Experts on national security are sharing their insights following a U.S. drone attack that killed the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, resulting in threats from the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the United States.

President Donald Trump and his team of advisers orchestrated the targeting killing of General Qassem Soleimani early on Friday. The general was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, which was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on April 15, 2019.

Phil Haney is a founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He suggests “there must be some pretty awesome intel on the ground in and around Baghdad.” He suspects that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) could have had some involvement.

“Clearly, someone was following Soleimani’s communications – a Farsi-speaking ally, perhaps,” he suggests, adding that “the next step – the next chess move – will take place in a couple arenas away from Iran itself.”

Iran mourns Soleimani’s death, America awaits threatened retaliation

OneNewsNow spoke to Clare Lopez, vice president of research and analysis for the Center for Security Policy. She expects that after a three-day period of mourning in the Middle East country, the United States might actually experience retaliation – and “Iran has a lot of options,” she states.

Clare Lopez

“[Iran] has proxy terror forces all over the region of the Middle East,” she warns, noting that the region is home to many U.S. military bases and diplomatic facilities that “have been explicitly targeted – or at least threatened – by the Iranian regime in the past.”

The U.S. military, diplomats, and her allies are on high alert across the Middle East, Lopez notes – “and we need to be mindful that Hezbollah has many operational cells inside the United States,” she points out.

She considers Hezbollah within the United States a “real threat” and one she is convinced “is very under-acknowledged by our national security [personnel] that may or not even know they are here – [yet] they have been for a very long time.”

Considering the threat of retaliation from Iran, she advises, “we need to take a very serious look at the threat [Hezbollah sleeper cells in America].”

But Lopez points out “the taking out of Soleimani was a direct U.S. hit against a senior Iranian regime official.” As a result, she tells OneNewsNow, “retaliation from Iran may likewise be a direct hit against the United States – not necessary [an attack] via proxy [forces].”

The Iranian regime’s response for “credibility or merely the sake of their own attempt at retaliation might be an attempt at something direct,” she emphasizes.

“[Iran] certainly has a lot of proxy forces in the region,” the former CIA operations officer attests, noting the consistent threats to Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah. “The Quds force that Soleimani commanded has worked with Al Qaeda for a long time, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a host of other Shiite terror proxies in the region – especially in Iraq,” she adds.

While the strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Lopez admits the threat from many other Shiite terror militias cannot be ruled out.

“But would [Iran] attempt something indirectly via proxy forces?” she wonders. “Or would their retaliation be direct?” The answer to her inquiry remains to be determined.

Maginnis: ‘This was an intelligence coup’

Steve Jordahl

Pentagon analyst Robert Maginnis says the killing of Iranian terrorist leader Qassim Soleimani was necessary and justified.Soleimani was a popular general in the Iranian Army and, according to Maginnis, the number-two leader in the country. But he says Soleimani was also in charge of the country’s “clandestine activities” – a.k.a. terrorism efforts – and had been designated a known terrorist by the U.S. and sanctioned by the United Nations.Maginnis calls the killing of Soleimani at Iraq’s Baghdad airport on Friday a coup.

“Soleimani, in the last couple of years, has become overly confident, making it much easier for us to track and to identify him,” he tells OneNewsNow. “I believe that this was an intelligence coup. We set him up and put him at the particular time and location where we wanted him – and we took him out.”

Threats from other Iranian leaders have been pouring out of the country, and the U.S. has urged all Americans to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible.”He is the mastermind of the Islamic Republic’s global terror activities,” he says of Soleimani, “so it’s a significant blow to them. Understandably, the Ayatollah Khamenei came out and said that there would be vengeance and it would be swift. We’ll have to wait and see if they follow through with that.”But Maginnis doesn’t expect the general’s death to put much of a dent in Iran’s terror activities. “They use proxies for the most part,” he explains, “and the proxies are not going to be hamstrung by the absence – at least the immediate absence – of Soleimani.”
Above image shows the wreckage of an American drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.