REP. RIGGLEMAN: Killing Soleimani Made Us All Safer — Take It From This Veteran

(Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Since President Trump took decisive action to eliminate Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Democrats in Congress have reacted predictably by deriding President Trump. They attack our president for defending national security simply because they are a one-note band eager to detract from their impeachment charade.

First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the killing of Soleimani “provocative and disproportionate.” Not surprisingly, her echo chamber of supporters followed suit. The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said, “President Trump recklessly assassinated Qasem Soleimani. He had no evidence of an imminent threat or attack.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was concerned that we had simply killed a “government official” and conducted an “assassination.”

They are wrong.

I am a former United States Air Force Intelligence Officer who had the privilege of mission planning initial bombing runs into Afghanistan in direct response to 9/11. Later in my career, I led an intelligence team in tracking IED technology transfer, tactics, individual units, personnel training and trainer movement for multiple IED types, including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs).

In short, we targeted bad guys from Iran and other countries who liked to blow up Americans.

The hypocrisy of the Democratic position is easy to see when President Trump’s actions are compared with former President Barack Obama. Obama targeted bad Americans who threatened American lives when he authorized the killing of Anwar Al Awlaki. Not surprisingly, many of my Democratic Party colleagues had a different view when it was Obama in the Oval Office using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) against an American terrorist overseas, or the hundreds of other UAVs sent to kill thousands of people in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. Anyone willing to search the internet can plainly see the hypocrisy of Pelosi and her colleagues. Pelosi obviously thought that the targeted killing program conducted by the Obama administration was neither provocative nor disproportionate.

The sophistication of the IED training, the advanced tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as the organized approach to securing and storing re-purposed battlefield munitions in Iraq were mostly attributable to Iran’s Quds Forces led by Soleimani. Those who used deadly IEDs were trained by his Iranian Quds Forces.

Soleimani killed Americans and was the leader of proxy forces that killed Americans and allies until Jan. 3 of this year.

He was a terrorist.

He was a target.

Our response was not provocative and disproportionate. It was “necessary and proportionate.”

Soleimani was a major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and, starting in 1998, commander of the Quds Force. Quds is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and directs unconventional warfare and terror operations for non-state actors, including supporting proxy terror organizations in Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen and the West Bank. Quds also oversees Shia militia operations in multiple countries, including Iraq. We had compelling evidence that Soleimani was planning an imminent, coordinated attack.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed along with Soleimani, had three primary jobs. He was Soleimani’s primary advisor, deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC) and leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a Shia Militia Group (SMG). Why would Soleimani meet with al-Muhandis? The multiple hats worn by al-Muhandis could make him the center of the command and control infrastructure for Iranian backed SMGs inside Iraq. Al-Muhandis planned and participated in the embassy attack, controlled and coordinated proxy forces and had a sordid history of firing missiles at US personnel. Soleimani was meeting with a known threat and proxy mission planner.

Soleimani wasn’t simply a government official. He was a terror leader with authority over a vast network of terror groups that posed a critical asymmetric threat to the United States and our allies. A terrorist wearing an official uniform is still a terrorist. Warren used the word “assassination” in an inflammatory way, suggesting an illegal and immoral action. This was neither illegal nor immoral but necessary and justifiable. If like me, Warren has friends and family currently serving, then I hope she wants their safety prioritized over all else, including killing one of the chief architects of IED technology transfer and training that maimed my compatriots serving in Iraq.

The United States must be prepared to fight terrorism with necessary, justifiable, and lawful means. Soleimani was a terrorist on our target list — plain and simple. And while he may have been a government official, terrorism doesn’t wear a distinguishable uniform or play by the same set of rules.

He was a terrorist.

He was a target.

Denver Riggleman (@Denver4VA) has represented Virginia as a Republican in the U.S. House since 2019.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.