This girl is a keeper!!!! It happened at a New York Airport. This is hilarious. I wish I had the guts of this girl. An award should go to the United Airlines gate agent in New York for being smart and funny, while making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo. For all of you out there who have had to deal with an irate customer, this one is for you. A crowded United Airlines flight was canceled. A single agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly, an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS.” The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first; and then I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.” The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?” Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention, please?”, she began, her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him with his identity, please come to Gate 14”. With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United Airlines agent, gritted his teeth, and said, “F*** You!” Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to get in line for that, too.” Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain…
A propaganda video circulating in Iran dramatizes the assassination of President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the video, distributed by Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency, “the dome of the [U.S.] Capitol explodes, the men fire at the White House and storm it, and men, including U.S. President Donald Trump, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lie dead on the floor,” according to an analysis of the video from the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.
The video was released following the Trump administration’s killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike. Similar propaganda has been circulating across Iran as its hardline regime attempts to foment anti-U.S. fervor across the country.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday appeared to cast blame on President Trump and the US for the downing by Iran of a Ukrainian jetliner that was allowed to take off from Tehran following an Iranian airstrike on US troops in Iraq just hours earlier.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau told Global News television.
All 176 people – including 57 Canadians — aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 were killed when the Revolutionary Guard mistakenly fired a missile at the Boeing 737 just after takeoff from Tehran.
“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war. Innocents bear the brunt of it and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing,” Trudeau continued, appearing to reference Trump’s order of a drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 2.
A convicted sex offender in Michigan is heading to prison for 10–20 years after being caught with child pornography on his computer. What makes this case interesting is the defense that 45-year-old Joseph Gobrick offered in court. Speaking to a judge at his sentencing hearing, Gobrick claimed that he has a First Amendment right to look at child porn. He also claimed that he identifies as an eight-year-old girl.
“I’ve always been an eight-year-old girl,’’ Gobrick contended. “Even in my drawings and fantasies, I am always an eight-year-old girl. … There are adults having sex with me in an online forum as an eight-year-old girl.”
The judge apparently did not find this argument persuasive. No reasonable person would. But an obvious question is raised here. Why exactly can’t Gobrick identity as a young girl? On what basis can we deny or disqualify his self-identification?
Council on Foreign Relations member Qanta Ahmed weighed in on Sunday on the anti-government protests that had erupted at Iranian universities across the country on Saturday in response to Iran’s admission that it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane killing all 176 people on board, saying that she thinks “this regime, for the first time ever, is seriously threatened.”
Ahmed, a Muslin scholar, made the comment on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday adding that the regime “is in its most fragile and precarious time probably since 1979.”
“They’ve had a disastrous outcome to their attempt of intimidating the United States, their attempts on the embassy in Baghdad failed, they’ve had Qassem Soleimani [figuratively] decapitated, they had to admit that they shot down their own commercial airliner, killing hundreds of people, 83 Iranians, many Iranians have lost multiple family members,” she explained.
The mogul-turned-president has long relied on loyalists to push the limits in defense of his image, but Roy Cohn, David Pecker and Michael Cohen all wound up out in the cold…..
Joe Palazzolo and
For decades, Donald Trump has depended on loyalists to take care of especially sensitive and difficult tasks. These guardians of his image—including the Red-baiter Roy Cohn, the tabloid publisher David Pecker and the lawyer Michael Cohen —learned a hard lesson from their service. They pledged fealty to Mr. Trump and dedicated themselves to shielding him. For a while, they became wealthier and more powerful through their association with him. But Mr. Trump ultimately offered little back in protection or respect.
Mr. Trump’s first fixer was Cohn, the disgraced former chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. In the 1970s, as a lawyer for the powerful, Cohn manipulated the media and the legal system to secure business advantages for Mr. Trump. He cast his client as a fabulously successful developer who transformed his father’s collection of low-end apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens into a Manhattan-based empire of luxury condominium towers.
Cohn defined the role of fixer for Mr. Trump, but after Cohn became sick with AIDS in the 1980s, Mr. Trump distanced himself, steering business elsewhere. Weeks after he won the presidency in 2016, Mr. Trump told friends at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, that after hosting the dying Cohn for dinner there, “I had to spend a fortune to fumigate all the dishes and silverware.”
Mr. Trump’s views of media and celebrity were shaped by Cohn and his successors, the men he relied on to project a particular version of himself—one that often bore little resemblance to reality. Their careers with Mr. Trump shed light on his rise in public life and his victory in the 2016 presidential election.
This account is based on court and congressional documents, texts and other communications, along with interviews with people involved in or familiar with the events.
Mr. Pecker’s celebrity gossip and personal-lifestyle empire—primarily the tabloid National Enquirer—promoted Mr. Trump’s political aspirations for almost two decades, starting in 1999.
Donald Trump (left) with his attorney Roy Cohn, Oct. 18, 1984
Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s special counsel at the Trump Organization, styled himself as the boss’s loyal problem solver. A personal-injury lawyer and taxi-medallion owner raised on Long Island, Mr. Cohen became Mr. Trump’s armed press attaché in the late 2000s. Over the years, he wore a gun in an ankle holster and used legal threats to suppress bad headlines about his boss.
Together with Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Pecker worked during the 2016 presidential campaign to “catch and kill” stories about former Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal and former adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who privately alleged that they’d had affairs with the Republican candidate. Both women were paid to keep silent.
Mr. Cohen was charged with campaign-finance violations and is serving three years in prison. Mr. Pecker’s company, American Media Inc., admitted breaking the law while doing Mr. Trump’s bidding and reached an agreement with prosecutors to avoid criminal charges.
Trump didn’t believe he owed his fixers anything.
Mr. Trump’s reward to his fixers was what he offered all those in his service over the decades: exposure to his world, the chance to play a bit part in his story. These operatives were attracted to Mr. Trump’s aura, to the force of the huge personality that led him to the presidency. But when they had fulfilled their missions, they were dispensable. Mr. Trump didn’t believe he owed his fixers anything.
Mr. Pecker was the son of a Bronx bricklayer. He became an accountant and then rose in the publishing world through shrewd power plays. Mr. Pecker forged connections with influential figures, whose foibles were off-limits in his publications and were dubbed by staffers FOPs (Friends of Pecker).
In 1997, while running Hachette Magazines Inc., Mr. Pecker hatched a deal to publish a custom magazine called Trump Style. “Trump Style? That’s like the oxymoron of the century,” Hachette executive Nick Matarazzo said when Mr. Pecker told him of it. When advertisers didn’t bite, Mr. Pecker became enraged.
His relationship with Mr. Trump was a series of chits accrued and favors cashed in. Before Mr. Pecker took over at American Media in 1999, the Enquirer had feasted on stories of Mr. Trump’s affairs and breakups. After Mr. Pecker’s arrival, his gossip empire didn’t print a bad word about Mr. Trump.
As the publisher promoted Mr. Trump’s rise, Mr. Trump fed American Media tips and offered Mr. Pecker business advice. When Mr. Trump spotted an article about the company’s financial troubles, he scrawled over it with a Sharpie: You’ll be on top again in no time. Mr. Pecker framed the note and proudly displayed it in his office.
When American Media was based near Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Pecker would hang around if Mr. Trump was in town so that he could hitch a ride back to New York on the mogul’s jet. Mr. Pecker’s National Enquirer breathlessly promoted Mr. Trump’s 2011 exploratory presidential bid, and his Globe and Star propelled the “birther” conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump used to attack President Barack Obama and raise his own political profile.
Mr. Cohen came to work for Mr. Trump in 2007, after impressing him during a board uprising at a condo building. But the deals he attempted at the Trump Organization fizzled, and the boss came to question his legal skills.
In 2009, Mr. Trump gave company lawyer George Sorial an unpleasant task: persuade Mr. Cohen to resign. He’d had it with Mr. Cohen, who no longer seemed like a good fit. But Mr. Cohen decided to stay, taking a pay cut and doing more thankless work.
One of his duties was telling small-business owners that they could expect severely reduced fees or none at all for the services they provided to Mr. Trump. The boss reveled in hearing these accounts.
U.S. Attorney John Huber effectively concluded a sprawling investigation into several matters related to the Clintons without a finding of criminal wrongdoing, according to a Washington Post report.
In November 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions tapped Huber to investigate the Clinton Foundation as well as Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state toward Uranium One, an energy firm linked to Clinton Foundation donors. Huber was also tasked with investigation matters related to the Russia probe, but that part of his investigation was ceded to the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general.
State Supreme Court Judge James Burke ripped through the defense’s five-point motion calmly but like a sharp knife finally unsheathed. “There is nothing inflammatory or biased for scolding a recalcitrant defendant for not complying with the court,” he said, unsurprisingly. “I have in no way prejudged your client and gone to great lengths to ensure your client the fair trial he deserves.”
Thursday is Day 4 of the criminal trial that could see Weinstein behind bars for the rest of his life if found guilty of five felony counts. “
Harvey Weinstein Seeks Rape Trial Judge Tossed From Case Over Cell Phone Jail Threat
Preceded by almost half an hour at the bench where the judge was writing and keeping the court on tenterhooks, Burke’s decision comes less than 24 hours after Weinstein’s co-counsel Arthur Aidala brandished in court a motion to have the judge recuse himself for threatening to throw the producer in jail for repeated use of his cell phone in court. “Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life by texting in violation of an order?” Burke barked at Weinstein on January 7 in front of the defense team, prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney and others.
Eventually, Burke — who has faced daily attempts this week by the Donna Rotunno-led defense to derail or delay the high-profile matter — decided to let Weinstein off with a one-more-chance warning. But he unintentionally offered another opportunity for the producer’s lawyers in what obviously a tactic to set the stage for an appeal.
“Faced with extreme and unfairly prejudicial negative publicity both pre-trial and now during jury selection, this Court has refused the defendant’s requests for additional necessary procedural safeguards,” Aidala’s correspondence to Burke on Wednesday declared in language that has become almost commonplace from Weinstein’s various defense teams over the nearly two years since he was arrested in NYC on the sexual assault charges.
Also, having sought Wednesday to have the trial stopped or at least the paused — due in no small part to media scrutiny and a slew of charges laid by the L.A. County District Attorney on January 6, the first day of the trial — the defense is methodically laying the foundation on various levels for an eventual post-verdict appeal to claim that their client did not receive a fair stint in court if Weinstein is found guilty.
An Army general has denied a request by an officer pardoned in an open murder case by President Trump to have his Special Forces tab reinstated, setting up a potential flash point with the commander in chief.
The decoration for retired Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn was denied Dec. 3 by Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the Army disclosed Thursday. Beaudette’s decision is not final, and the service said in a statement that it will next have an administrative panel consider whether it should reinstate the Special Forces tab and a Distinguished Service Cross — the U.S. military’s second-highest valor award — and expunge a letter of reprimand Golsteyn received in connection with his case.
Golsteyn was awaiting trial this year in the alleged murder of a suspected Taliban bombmaker in Marja, Afghanistan, in February 2010. The service opened an investigation into Golsteyn after he disclosed the killing during a 2011 polygraph as the CIA was considering him for a job. Army officials revoked the tab and valor award in 2014 while issuing the reprimand and charged Golsteyn with murder in 2018.
Golsteyn has acknowledged the killing in media interviews but said it occurred in a lawful ambush. He burned the body afterward to prevent disease, he said.
The general’s denial of Golsteyn’s reinstatement request follows Trump’s decision in November to pardon Golsteyn along with former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, an Army officer who had been convicted of murder in Afghanistan. Trump also decided to reinstate the rank of a Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who was acquitted of murder last year but convicted of posing for a photo with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq.
Golsteyn, reached for comment Thursday evening, said he had not heard about the decision until it was first reported by The Washington Post. A few minutes later, he and his lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, said they received notification from the Army in an emailed letter that had just arrived.
CHICAGO (AP) — A judge has ordered Google to turn over a year’s worth of Jussie Smollett’s emails, private messages, photographs and location data to a special prosecutor who is looking into why prosecutors abruptly dismissed criminal charges against the actor.
On Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that it had obtained two search warrants submitted by special prosecutor Dan Webb and signed off by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin last month.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office filed and quickly dropped 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett for allegedly staging a January 2019 attack in downtown Chicago and lying about it to police. Toomin appointed Webb months later and the warrants offer the first public hints about what he has been investigating.
When the charges were filed, Chicago police alleged the black and openly gay Smollett — unhappy with his salary and hoping to promote his career — paid two brothers to stage what appeared to be a racist and homophobic attack, in which one of the men looped a rope fashioned as a noose around his neck.
In the warrants, Webb seeks information from the Google accounts of Smollett and his manager, including unsent draft emails and deleted messages. He also requests files from their Google Drive cloud storage services, Google Voice texts, and web browsing history.
Webb has not publicly discussed the investigation and Smollett has maintained his innocence. But the fact the warrants seek data between November 2018 and November 2019 suggests investigators could be trying to support the original police allegation that Smollett planned and helped stage a fake attack.
It remains unclear if Google has turned over the information. In approving the warrants, Toomin ordered Google not to disclose the order, saying that doing so “may jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation”. A Google spokesman told the Tribune that he could not comment on requests for records from law enforcement.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed the department is conducting ’follow-ups” of its initial investigation but he declined to comment further. An attorney who tried to block the appointment of the special prosecutor and another attorney representing Smollett in a federal civil case did not immediately return calls for comment.
GOP Sens.Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) ripped the administration over a closed-door briefing on Iran on Wednesday, announcing they will now support a resolution reining in President Trump‘s military powers.
Lee, speaking to reporters after a roughly hourlong closed-door meeting with administration officials, characterized it as “the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were dispatched to brief both the House and Senate on Wednesday amid days of concerns from lawmakers that Trump was on a path to war with Iran, which on Tuesday night launched missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
Lee said the officials warned that Congress would “embolden” Iran if lawmakers debated Trump’s war powers.
“I find this insulting and demeaning … to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States,” Lee said.
Lee did not say which briefer made the assertion but specified that no administration representative contradicted them. He added that he was going to have a “conversation” with Trump about the remarks.
“I find that absolutely insane. I think that’s unacceptable,” Lee added.
Paul added that he found the briefing “less than satisfying” and knocked the administration for using the 2002 war authorization as the basis for last week’s airstrike against an Iranian general.
“I see no way in the world you could logically argue that an authorization to have war with Saddam Hussein has anything to with having war with people currently in Iraq,” Paul told reporters.
He added that using the 2002 authorization to justify the strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad was “absurd” and an “insult.”
“Let’s have the debate, and let’s have some senators stand up,” Paul said.
The briefing comes as the House is set to vote on a resolution on Thursday that would force Trump to end hostilities against Iran unless he gets specific authorization from Congress.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has introduced a similar resolution that is set for a vote on the Senate floor as soon as next week.
Lee said that he had not seen the House resolution but was open to considering it.
Iranian Vice President Massoumeh Ebtekar: “The American president made a serious miscalculation, they made a serious mistake by assassinating, by taking this terrorist action, against Commander Soleimani, and I’m sure that they regret what they have done.”
CNN on Monday conducted a lengthy interview with an Iranian government official who once served as the spokeswoman for a group of students who held 52 American diplomats hostage for more than a year in 1979.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour did little to push back on Iranian official Massoumeh Ebtekar’s assertions that the U.S. carried out a “terrorist” action by killing Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike Jan. 2.
Amanpour also failed to acknowledge that Ebtekar was chief spokeswoman for a group of Iranian students who held 52 American diplomats hostage at the U.S. embassy in Iran for 444 days, from 1979 to 1981.
Ebtekar said in an interview in 1979 during the hostage crisis that she would personally be willing to put a gun to one of the hostages’ heads and pull the trigger.
Next week, more than two years after his alleged predations ignited a cultural flash point, the disgraced former movie producer will stand trial for rape in a Manhattan courtroom. In the months since his initial arrest, Weinstein’s case has seen multiple delays, shifting charges, and a tabloid-ready turnover of defense attorneys. The team that will take him to trial explains their case.
Donna Rotunno was getting into her Audi after work at Chicago’s landmark Marquette Building one night last May when her secretary sent a text. A man in New York wanted to talk to her about “a personal matter and something big.” He was a lawyer and, he said, a personal friend of Harvey Weinstein’s: The disgraced movie mogul needed “a trial lawyer and quarterback,” Rotonno later recalled, for the upcoming rape trial that could put the producer in jail for the rest of his life for the alleged sexual assaults of two women.
“I wasn’t surprised to get the phone call,” Rotunno told me in a conversation last fall. “I do these kinds of cases.” She was talking about defending men accused of sexual assault and rape. Rotunno has made such work enough of a specialty that, in the wake of #MeToo, Chicago magazine put her on its cover as “the anti-Gloria Allred.” Rotunno, who is 44, has embraced the role. In conversation she presents as Fox News–brand tough with the requisite disdain for “political correctness.“ Her clients have included such locally notorious figures as an imam who pleaded guilty to molesting a student and a female employee, and a fashion designer found not guilty of rape. But by Weinstein standards, she was an unknown. Her name rarely appeared in the news outside Chicago. Her law firm didn’t have a website. She sometimes used a Yahoo email address to conduct business.
By the time Rotunno got the call, Weinstein had been awaiting trial for a year. After stories in the New York Times and New Yorker in 2017 led to an onslaught of accusers, authorities in several jurisdictions opened investigations into Weinstein. Eventually, authorities in New York charged him with five counts of felony sex-crimes following his arrest in May 2018. On Monday, eight months after that call to Rotunno—and 20 months after his arrest—Weinstein’s trial is scheduled to begin. The proceedings in a downtown Manhattan courtroom will mark the first major criminal trial of a powerful man taken down by #MeToo, and become a focal point for worldwide scrutiny for an anticipated four to six weeks. News outlets from Russia to Argentina plan to send correspondents.
While more than 80 women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse, he will stand trial for two alleged incidents. Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant has accused Weinstein of forcibly raping her in his SoHo home in 2006, and a woman who has remained anonymous says Weinstein raped her at a DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan in 2013. Weinstein faces felony charges on two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape, and one count of a criminal sexual act. He could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.
PICTURE ABOVE WAS POSTED BY PAPA MIKE AND NOT FROM THE SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE
Washington (CNN)In the face of warnings from the Pentagon that the hold on military aid to Ukraine could be illegal, an official from the Office of Management and Budget made it clear that the order to keep the freeze in place came directly from President Donald Trump, according to unredacted documents reviewed by Just Security.
The documents, including emails from officials at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget that were released under court order last month but were either partially or completely blacked out, offer new details about tensions between the two agencies tasked with carrying out Trump’s unexplained hold on aid to Ukraine.
They also raise serious questions about why the newly revealed contents were redacted by the Trump administration in the first place amid congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act litigation.
“These redactions at least raise eyebrows. The categories that the Freedom of Information Act allows the government to withhold are sufficiently vague that it’s hard to say whether these redactions were actually in violation of that law,” said Josh Geltzer, executive director and visiting professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.
“But does it appear suspicious given the damning nature of what was withheld, and the current government’s obvious motivation for withholding it,” he told CNN.
‘Clear direction from POTUS’
Among the documents viewed by Just Security, a website focusing on reporting and analysis of national security law and policy, was an August 30 email from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at OMB to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, stating the freeze on aid to Ukraine would continue at the explicit direction of the President despite growing legal concerns within the Pentagon and mounting external questions prompted by news of the hold becoming public just days prior.
“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” Duffey wrote in that email, which has only been made available in redacted form until now and was not handed over to House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry into the President, according to Just Security.
The August 30 email was sent on the same day Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Trump to discuss the hold, which had already been in place for roughly two months.
Additional emails viewed by Just Security show that McCusker first raised concerns about the legality of the hold on July 25, the same day as Trump’s now infamous call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations that could boost him politically.
The Defense Department issued additional warnings to OMB and the White House about the legality of the hold as it stretched into August. Specifically, Pentagon officials made clear they were becoming increasingly concerned about DoD’s ability to spend the Ukraine funding by the legally mandated September 30 deadline.
If the money was not spent by the deadline, it would be returned to the Treasury Department in what is known as “impoundment.”
“We were always concerned about the ramifications of holding the military assistance to Ukraine,” a Defense Department official told CNN.
“This is due to the fact it was appropriated by Congress and had been notified to Congress already prior to the hold being placed and the need to obligate the money by the end of the fiscal year, something the hold had prevented. These concerns were ‘raised multiple times with OMB’ via multiple channels,” they added.
The documents also highlight McCusker’s concerns that OMB was not representing the Pentagon’s concerns accurately.
“Recognizing the importance of decision space, but this situation is really unworkable made particularly difficult because OMB lawyers continue to consistently mischaracterize the process — and the information we have provided. They keep repeating that this pause will not impact DOD’s ability to execute on time,” McCusker wrote to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s chief of staff on August 27 in response to an inquiry about the hold from a defense contractor.
YOU IDIOTS SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO “TRUMP”………….Papa Mike
BAGHDAD (AP) — The United States killed Iran’s top general and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday, an attack that threatens to dramatically ratchet up tensions in the region.
The targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, could draw forceful Iranian retaliation against American interests in the region and spiral into a far larger conflict between the U.S. and Iran, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
An adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani quickly warned U.S. President Donald Trump of retaliation from Tehran.
“Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region,” Hessameddin Ashena wrote on the social media app Telegram. “Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”
The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, Iraqi officials said.
Trump was vacationing on his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, but sent out a tweet of an American flag.
The dramatic attack comes at the start of a year in which Trump faces both a Senate trial following his impeachment by the U.S. House and a re-election campaign. It marks a potential turning point in the Middle East and represents a drastic change for American policy toward Iran after months of tensions.
Tehran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone and seized oil tankers. The U.S. also blames Iran for a series of attacks targeting tankers, as well as a September assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry that temporarily halved its production.
The tensions take root in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Soleimani was the target of Friday’s U.S. attack, which was conducted by an armed American drone, according to a U.S. official. His vehicle was struck on an access road near the Baghdad airport.
Supreme leader says US president is not ‘logical,’ ‘can’t do anything’; vows his country will fight any threat to its interests
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said that US President Donald Trump was powerless to do anything to Iran, which will not hesitate to strike against any who threaten its interests.
Khamenei scoffed at remarks Trump made the previous day, in which the US leader said he was holding Tehran responsible for a violent assault on the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian demonstrators, who breached the outer wall of the Baghdad compound and burned property inside.
“That guy has tweeted that we see Iran responsible for the events in Baghdad & we will respond to Iran,” Khamenei wrote on his official Twitter account.
“1st: You can’t do anything,” he wrote. “2nd: If you were logical — which you’re not — you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan … have made nations hate you.
“If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge & fight, it will do so unequivocally,” Khamenei continued. “We’re not after wars, but we strongly defend the Iranian nation’s interests, dignity, & glory. If anyone threatens that, we will unhesitatingly confront & strike them.”
The rioting at the Baghdad embassy, which continued Wednesday, was sparked by weekend US airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia located in Iraq that Washington said was responsible for a rocket attack that killed a US civilian contractor. The US strikes killed 25 members of the Ketaeb Hezbollah group, a part of the state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces. There was wide public outrage in Iraq at the strikes, which were seen as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
“Look at what the US is doing in Iraq & Syria. They’re taking revenge on Hashd al-Sha’bi (the PMF) for defeating ISIS,” Khamenei wrote, referring to PMF involvement in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.