World

How Suleimani Was Tracked for years, Assassinated By The US

… How Qassem Soleimani was targeted by 230mph laser guided Hellfire missile fired from near-silent US MQ-9 Reaper drone after years of intelligence tracking his whereabouts.

He had escaped many previous assassination attempts. But Qassem Soleimani had little warning of the deadly missiles which targeted his car with pinpoint accuracy as he was leaving Baghdad airport.

A near-silent US MQ-9 Reaper drone launched the laser-guided weapons at the two-car convoy, killing the general, an Iraqi militia commander and their entourage.

The White House said the air strike was carried out ‘at the direction’ of President Donald Trump, who tweeted an image of the US flag hours after the attack.

He gave the orders without any apparent warning to his Western allies, including Britain, or to senior Democrats in the US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US made an ‘intelligence-based assessment’ to save American lives in the region amid reports Soleimani was ‘actively plotting’ attacks.

This prompted Mr Trump to order the air strike, following years of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Iran’s highest-ranking military commander arrived at the airport in the early hours of yesterday morning on a flight from Syria.

Two Toyota SUVs drove on to the tarmac and he was greeted by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iranian-backed militia forces operating in Iraq.

The two men and their most senior aides travelled in one car and their bodyguards in the other.

A Gulf newspaper reported the strike involved modified Hellfire R9X ‘Ninja’ missiles, which have warheads with pop-out spinning blades designed to minimise collateral damage.

Instead of exploding, the missile is armed with six long blades that extend just before impact, effectively shredding their targets.

CCTV footage from the airport appeared to show a large explosion, and the charred wreckage of the convoy suggested it had been ripped apart by the force of a massive blast. The Pentagon refused to give details of the strike and Iranian officials claimed it was carried out by helicopter.

Years of intelligence that led to the strike

Precision drone strikes rely on detailed intelligence, and Soleimani was kept under near-constant surveillance by US, Saudi and Israeli security forces.
The New York Times reported that the Pentagon used highly classified information from informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance techniques to track the Iranian general’s movements.

The strike was carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command, although the White House said it was done ‘at the direction’ of President Trump.
A source told CNN that Soleimani was involved in planning attacks on US interests in multiple countries in the region, including against US service personnel.

Force protection levels for all US military personnel in the region were increased in the 24 hours before the strike amid fears the attacks could be imminent.
A senior Trump administration official said intelligence suggested Soleimani was travelling to Baghdad to plan future attacks against US interests.

The official told CNN: ‘The President made a rapid and decisive decision on this.’ The Pentagon accused Soleimani of having previously orchestrated rocket attacks on coalition military bases in Iraq, including one last Friday which killed a US civilian contractor and injured several military personnel.

He was also said to have approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Did Trump breach rules with ‘secret’ attack? 

Senior Democrats accused the President of breaching protocol by launching the air strike without notifying leading members of Congress. The ‘Gang of Eight’, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are typically briefed over sensitive military actions which could have significant consequences for the US.
The four Democrats in the Gang of Eight said they were not briefed, although it was unclear if any of the Republicans were told ahead of time.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who is not a member of the group but is a close Trump ally, said he was briefed about the potential operation when he was with Mr Trump in Florida earlier in the week.

The Times reported that the strike was approved at the same time as the President authorised last Sunday’s attack on Kataeb Hezbollah bases in Iraq and Syria.

US presidents can act without congressional approval when US personnel or interests are facing an imminent threat.

In its statement, the Pentagon said: ‘At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani. This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.’

General was assassins’ target for decades

Soleimani had survived several assassination attempts by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.

But Mr Trump’s predecessors Barack Obama and George W Bush both baulked at plans to kill him, in the apparent belief that the consequences would be too great.

Last year Tehran said it foiled an assassination attempt by Israeli and Arab spies, who tried to buy a property next to a mosque built by Soleimani’s father in the city of Kerman so they could dig a tunnel and plant explosives to blow him up during a religious ceremony.

Source: DailyMailUK

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