The death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was part of an intentionally “disproportionate response” for crossing a “red line” by killing an American and ordering an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad, according to a new insider report. Trump White House account.
In his new book, General Keith Kellogg makes no mention of evidence that Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on Americans — the official justification for the strike.
His account will be seized by international law experts who have questioned the legality of a drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military figure.
Kellogg was National Security Adviser to Vice President Mike Pence in January 2020, when the Trump administration responded to a series of provocations.
In December 2019, a US civilian contractor was killed when an Iran-backed proxy militia in Iraq launched a missile attack on an Allied air base.
The US responded with strikes of its own, followed by Shiite militias that marched to the US embassy in Baghdad and forced their way through a checkpoint.
The unrest was only quelled when reinforcements arrived, in the form of Iraqi troops, US Marines and Apache helicopters.
“But our reaction had only just begun. We had very reliable intelligence reports confirming that our main enemy here was Soleimani,” Kellogg writes in “War by Other Means: A General in the Trump White House.” published today.
“We had always considered him a legitimate target because he was a sponsor of terrorism and directly responsible for the death and mutilation of hundreds of Americans.
“The Iranians had crossed our ‘red line’ by killing an American and reinforced their folly by attacking our embassy in Baghdad.
“We would respond. And this time, our response would be disproportionate.
‘We have jumped the escalation ladder. Our answer would be unequivocal. Our target would be Soleimani.’
Gene. Qassem Soleimani was chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force, and was believed to be responsible for Tehran’s support for Shia proxies, before his death last year
10 people died when a drone strike hit the convoy carrying Soleimani as he exited Baghdad airport on Jan. 3, in an attack that sparked anti-American protests in Iran
Gene. Keith Kellogg was national security adviser to Mike Pence in January 2020 when the strike was ordered on Soleimani. He held several security positions in the Trump White House
Kellogg’s book, ‘War by Other Means’, will be published Tuesday by Regnery
Soleimani was killed when a US MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles at his convoy as it exited Baghdad airport on January 3.
On Tuesday, Trump praised Kellogg’s book — which offered a flattering portrait of his time as president — as “factual and indisputable.”
“Unlike other Fakers and Slimeballs who write fictional books without knowing me or virtually anything about me, the General knew me and my government well, and was there for every major national security decision,” he said in an emailed statement. mail.
Kellogg was a senior figure on the National Security Council under Trump, where he once served as acting national security adviser before working for Pence.
But his explanation of the reason for the Soleimani strike differs from the official line, which claimed the attack was justified because the Iranian general was plotting attacks.
“Soleimani planned imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and eliminated him,” Trump said at the time.
And then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We had specific information about an imminent threat, and those threats from him include attacks on US embassies. Period. Point.’
However, international law experts said the White House did not support his position and the strike may have been illegal.
Barbara Slavin, Iran expert at the Atlantic Council, said the strike came at a time when Trump was under intense pressure to crack down on Iran.
“I think he was terrified that the US embassy could be taken over the way the Iranian embassy was taken over after the Iranian revolution,” she said.
“It was an ex post facto statement for doing what was an extraordinary escalation and something that was illegal under international law.”
Kellogg was Trump’s national security adviser after Mike Flynn’s resignation, and had walk-in rights to the Oval Office for much of his time in the White House.
Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force, and was believed to be responsible for Tehran’s support of Shia proxies that were stirring unrest in the Middle East.
He was often described as the most powerful figure in the country, after its supreme leader.
Last year, a United Nations expert said the strike was illegal without an imminent threat to life.
Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, concluded in her report that the US has not provided evidence to warrant immediate action.
“Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran’s military strategy and actions in Syria and Iraq,” she said.
“But without an actual imminent threat to life, the US action was illegal.”
The strike was an “arbitrary killing” for which the US is responsible under international human rights law, she concluded.