By staff and agency

Iraqi officials say ISIS, not Iran, behind rocket attack that Trump used to justify Soleimani assassination

February 8, 2020 - 19:50

In a “bombshell” revelation that calls into question one of the Trump administration’s stated justificiations for assassinating Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani—a move that nearly sparked a region-wide military conflict—Iraqi intelligence officials told the New York Times that they believe ISIS, not an Iran-linked popular forces, was likely responsible for the Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed an American contractor at an air base near Kirkuk, Iraq, Common Dreams reported on Friday.

The Times reported Thursday that “Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets.”

“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” Brigadier General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at the K-1 airbase, told the Times, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “We know Daesh’s movements.”

The U.S. responded to the rocket attack days later with deadly airstrikes on Khataib Hezbollah targets in Iraq and Syria, setting off a dangerous escalatory spiral that brought Iran and the U.S. to the brink of war.

The U.S. assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 with a drone strike in Baghdad ordered by President Donald Trump.

Following the assassination, which was widely condemned as an act of war, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a statement claiming without evidence that Soleimani “orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months—including the attack on December 27th—culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”

But Iraqi officials told the Times that “based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place,” there is good reason to be skeptical about U.S. claims that Khataib Hezbollah was behind it.

“Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and we went to war with Iraq. If this report is true, ISIS attacked the U.S. and we nearly went to war with Iran.”
In response to the Times report, Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, tweeted: “Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and we went to war with Iraq. If this report is true, ISIS attacked the U.S. and we nearly went to war with Iran.”

U.S. officials insisted to the Times that they have "solid evidence" showing that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, but they have not released any of this evidence to the public or to Iraqi officials.

“We have requested the American side to share with us any information, any evidence, but they have not sent us any information,” Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bayati, chief of staff for former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, told the Times.

Ilan Goldenberg, Middle East security director at the Center for a New American Security think tank, tweeted that the U.S. Congress “must ask questions about this and get the intel.”

Leave a Comment

4 + 4 =