National Security Advisor John Bolton on Tuesday unveiled a plan to target the commander of Iran’s military division responsible for terror operations abroad, saying the U.S. “will use every tool available to pursue” Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and to counter his “insidious designs.”

“Iran’s leadership will no longer enjoy a life of security and luxury while their people suffer and starve,” Bolton said during remarks at a United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) event in New York.

Bolton described Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force, as a “hardline acolyte” of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and “a brutal murderer.”

“Soleimani fancies himself a cunning and conniving mastermind, carefully plotting and manipulating others to carry out his evil agenda,” he said. “In reality he functions more as a thuggish mafia boss, strong-arming military proxies from Tehran through intimidation and manipulation.”

“His goal is to form these militias into a foreign legion of sorts, that can dominate and subjugate the peoples of the region to Tehran’s will,” Bolton added.

He also mused that Soleimani’s ultimate ambition may well be to take power himself, “something the ayatollahs should perhaps be a little worried about.”

The Trump administration has launched a pressure campaign, specifically aimed at countering Soleimani’s “insidious designs.”

“We will not allow Ayatollah Khamenei’s hitman to operate freely as he attempts to destroy the Middle East.”

The pressure campaign targets Soleimani’s funding and weapons transfers, and seeks to expose him “for what he is – a brutal murderer,” Bolton said.

“We are working to choke off his funding which he uses to pay tens of thousands of militants, to proliferate missiles and other dangerous weapons, to establish permanent military bases in Syria, and to plot terrorist attacks.”

He said the U.S. was also cooperating with allies to protect countries in the region from Iranian subversion, to intercept Soleimani’s weapons transfers, and disrupt his plotting.

“We will use every tool available to pursue Soleimani and others like him.”

Iran characterizes Soleimani as a heroic figure who spearheaded the campaign by Shi’ite militias against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and has played a key role in the drive to prop up Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

U.S. military officials have for years accused the Qods Force of arming and supporting Shi’ite militias in Iraq, including providing particularly lethal types of improvised explosive devices that have many coalition and Iraqi troops, as well as Iraqi civilians.

In 2015 U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, shortly before he became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers the Qods Force and Soleimani were responsible for the deaths of at least 500 U.S. troops in Iraq.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Soleimani’s Qods Force has also provided assistance and weapons to the Taliban, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

The U.S. government has designated the Qods Force for terrorism since 2007, accusing it of links to international terror acts including the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and a foiled 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington restaurant.

Those incidents and others around the world are discussed in a new report by the State Department’s Iran Action Group, released on Tuesday, entitled, “Outlaw Regime: A chronicle of Iran’s destructive activities.”

The Treasury Department has also designated Soleimani himself, in 2007 for supporting terrorism; and twice in 2011, for supporting the Assad regime and for his role in the stymied plot to kill the Saudi envoy in Washington

Last January a Kuwaiti newspaper claimed in an unsourced report that the U.S. and Israel were plotting to assassinate Soleimani.

In December last year then CIA Director – now Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo said he had written to Soleimani, warning him that the U.S. would hold him responsible for any attacks on U.S. forces by Qods Force-backed Iraqi militia.

Pompeo said Soleimani had reportedly refused to open the letter.

Source » cnsnews