To mark the third anniversary of a seismic assassination, a number of Iranian officials have vowed revenge for the slaying of iconic military leader Qassem Soleimani at the hands of the United States on January 3, 2020, for which 94 citizens, including then-President Donald Trump, are being blamed.
The list of suspects, which has yet to be made public, was announced Tuesday by Kazem Gharibabadi, who serves as the Iranian Judiciary’s vice president for international affairs and secretary-general of Iran’s Human Rights Headquarters. While those indicted hailed from several countries, including 17 from Iraq, where Soleimani was killed, and an unspecified number from Germany and the United Kingdom, Gharibabadi said that, “currently, the indictment focuses on American defendants,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
“This case now has 94 defendants from America,” Gharibabadi said. “All the necessary documents have been collected by the judicial authorities and at least three complete volumes about these 94 defendants are ready.”
Of these 94, he said “the three main accused” are Trump, his then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-U.S. Central Command chief Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie.
“No person will be immune from judicial proceedings,” Gharibabadi warned. “The issued indictment fully accuses these 3 people, and the judicial system is handling it, and in this way, there is no obstacle in the judicial system before us.”
While he said Iranian officials had received cooperation from their counterparts in Iraq, where the Supreme Judicial Council has also issued a warrant for Trump’s arrest, he said that the U.S. and the two European countries have not cooperated with requests. As such, he argued that Iranian courts were prepared to go forth with the prosecution against their nationals unilaterally in accordance with the 1973 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, Including Diplomatic Agents.
Iranian military leaders have also vowed to strike back at those deemed responsible for the killing of Soleimani, who held the rank of major general, and led the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Qods Force at the time of his killing. Among those who perished alongside the Iranian military leader was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an influential umbrella of militias.
A statement issued Monday by the IRGC asserted that taking “revenge against the perpetrators and killers of the martyr Soleimeni as soon as possible is a definite and inviolable manner.”
Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Gharaei Ashtiani also issued a warning on Monday, stating that “avenging the blood of General Soleimani is on the permanent agenda of the country’s armed forces, and the commanders and perpetrators of this cowardly assassination will receive their disgraceful punishment at a time and place they do not even think about, and the Islamic Republic of Iran will determine its time and place.”
“The fingers of the soldiers of this land are on the trigger for that historical moment,” he added.
Others to weigh in included IRGC Major General Hossein Salami, who told a news outlet associated with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office that “at present, the revenge has turned into a strategy, a wish, an aspiration and a starting point,” as well as Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammed Hossein Baqeri, who asserted that “revenge against the masterminds and perpetrators of General Soleimani’s assassination will never be removed from the agenda of the youths of the Muslim world and his devotees across the world.”
A number of other leading Iranian figures have given eulogies Soleimani in recent days, including President Ebrahim Raisi, who previously led the judiciary now investigating those behind the major general’s killing, and Khamenei himself, who bestowed upon Soleimani Iran’s highest award less than a year before his death.
Three years after his killing, Soleimani remains a polarizing figure in the region. He is widely credited with having played a frontline role in mobilizing efforts to battle Sunni Muslim jihadi groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, but has also been accused of stoking sectarian tensions through the formation of the international, largely Shiite Muslim “Axis of Resistance” that still exists today.
And though his anti-ISIS efforts came at a time when the U.S. was also scrambling to take on the rapidly spreading militant group, Soleimani’s parallel efforts to expel U.S. troops from Iraq made him a public enemy in Washington for decades.
But Trump’s decision to kill the commander was controversial and met with mixed reactions both abroad and at home, as it was an unprecedented peacetime of killing of a foreign military official, even though the U.S. leader had designated him a terrorist only months earlier.
Future President Joe Biden cast doubt on Trump’s calculus at the time, acknowledging that Soleimani “deserved to be brought to justice,” while at the same time accusing the then-president of pursuing a “hugely escalatory move,” which he likened to having “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”
The strike that took out Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport came amid a series of tit-for-tat escalations between U.S. forces and Iraqi militias backed by Iran. In the immediate aftermath of the killing, which Newsweek first confirmed to English-speaking audiences, Iran launched a barrage of missile attacks at Iraq’s Ain Al Asad Airbase, where more than 100 U.S. military personnel suffered traumatic brain injuries.
Iranian officials, including Soleimani’s successor, Esmail Ghaani, have maintained that they would continue to seek a policy of “hard revenge” against for his killing. As animations imagining an Iranian assassination of Trump circulated during last year’s second anniversary of Soleimani’s killing, a U.S. Secret Service spokesperson told Newsweek it was taking threats against Trump’s life “seriously.”
Soleimani’s legacy has been tested at home too, as months-long protests continue in response to the killing of an Iranian woman in the custody of the country’s Guidance Patrol in September. While a number of Iranians attended ceremonies mourning Soleimani’s passing, others critical of the Islamic Republic he fought for abroad defaced posters bearing his image.
Those supportive of Soleimani abroad gathered in countries such as India, Iraq and Lebanon, where crowds attended a televised speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in praise of the slain Iranian major general.
Source » msn