Former acting and deputy CIA director Michael Morell has said that US President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate of Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani will lead to “dead Americans.”
Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were killed in US airstrikes in the Iraqi capital Baghdad early on Friday. The US strike took place at the Baghdad International Airport, killing eight other people.
The Pentagon said US President Donald Trump had ordered Soleimani’s assassination.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei promised “severe revenge” for the death of the military commander. Ayatollah Khamenei said the “cruelest people on earth” assassinated the “honorable” commander who “courageously fought for years against the evils and bandits of the world.”
Morell told CBS News on Friday that the deadly US strike will trigger a harsh response from the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying the United States will have to pay “a very high cost” for killing General Soleimani.
“Number one, there will be dead Americans, dead civilian Americans, as a result of this,” Morell said.
He added that Americans are no longer safe in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and other places in the Middle East.
Morell added that the assassination of General Soleimani sets a “precedent that senior officials are fair game in this hybrid, not-yet-at-war kind of scenario.”
“At a time and place of their choosing, they’re going to conduct” a strike that “kills a senior American official,” he stated.
The former CIA director warned that the decision to assassinate the top Iranian commander will come at “an extraordinarily high price.”
“And that’s why the Bush administration and the Obama administration chose not to do something like this,” he added.
US Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress expressed outrage over Trump’s ordered strike, saying the Republican president did not obtain congressional approval.
The Trump administration on Friday sought to justify its killing as an act of self-defense, using baseless claims to deflect accusations that it violated international law.
Some US legal experts argued Trump lacked the legal authority to kill Soleimani on Iraqi soil without the permission of Iraq’s government, and said the attack was unlawful under international and US law.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the US assassination, describing the strike as a “flagrant violation of the conditions authorizing the presence of US troops” on Iraqi soil.