WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said attacks planned by Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, killed him in a U.S. drone attack last week, “were going to lead, potentially, to the death of many more Americans.”
Pompeo made comment at a news conference where he was pressed on whether any such planned Iranian attacks were “imminent,” the term that he had used on Friday, the day Soleimani was killed in Iraq.
“Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order – Qassem Soleimani – had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?” he said. “We know that wasn’t true.”
Pompeo also held Soleimani responsible for a Dec. 27 rocket attack in Iraq in which a U.S. civilian contractor was killed.
“He was continuing the terror campaign in the region. We know what happened … in December, ultimately leading to the death of an American. So, if you are looking for imminence, you need look no further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against Soleimani,” Pompeo said.
“And then you in addition to that have what we could clearly see were continuing efforts on behalf of this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead, potentially, to the death of many more Americans,” he added.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)