As former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brags about the assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian political commentator says the Islamic Republic has proved that anyone involved in the terrorist act will ultimately pay the price one way or another.
In an interview with Press TV on Saturday, Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, an Iranian journalist and university professor, said Iran’s retaliation over the US assassination of General Soleimani is not linked to other issues, adding that those involved will undoubtedly be targeted.
Pompeo claimed on Friday that the top Iranian anti-terror commander was assassinated to stop what he called an imminent attack on US positions.
“General Soleimani was engaged in a plot to kill another 500 Americans,” he said, without providing evidence for his claim. “We had the opportunity to take down that plot, and we did.”
Pompeo also dismissed as false Iran’s warnings prior to the assassination, saying that “there were warnings that said if you strike at General Soleimani there will be war.”
He said “there was no war” after the assassination, yet he failed to mention Iran’s retaliatory strike against an American-run air base only five days afterward.
‘You’d better deal with your hiding place’
Asked to comment on those remarks, Khoshcheshm said Pompeo “had better deal with his hiding place. I mean, he’s been hiding under a very heavy escort of bodyguards, wherever he goes.”
He said concerns about Pompeo's life is one of the reasons that the US has asked Iran to forget about its promised retaliation for General Soleimani’s assassination.
“Iran has reiterated that no matter what happens to the [Vienna] talks, no matter what happens to anything else, the retaliation is for sure and all those who have done this crime will pay the price,” he stated.
The assassination, directly ordered by former US president Donald Trump, occurred near Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020. It also killed the general’s companions, including deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Both Soleimani and al-Muhandis were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
In a military operation codenamed Operation Martyr Soleimani on January 8, 2020, the IRGC launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar.
According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base.
The Islamic Republic has announced that Operation Martyr Soleimani was only a “first slap” in its process of taking “harsh revenge,” with Iranian officials saying at times that the ultimate revenge would be a complete US expulsion from the region.
Culprits paying price one by one: Khoshcheshm
Khoshcheshm said it’s not just Pompeo and his former boss, Trump, who will be punished for their criminal act, adding that then-US envoy for Iran Brian Hook and many others are also on Iran’s list.
“Iran has released a list of 66 culprits, some of them have already paid the price according to some media outlets in the region, and the rest are standing on the list, and there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
In a report released back in February, the US State Department said it was paying more than $2 million per month to provide 24-hour security to Pompeo, one of the key perpetrators.
According to the leaked report, the cost of protecting Pompeo and former Iran envoy Hook between August 2021 and February 2022 amounted to $13.1 million.
Washington also revealed in late March that the number of attacks against American forces went up 400 percent after the assassination and the broader “maximum pressure” campaign that the United States launched against the Islamic Republic in 2018.
“This was in the aftermath of the decision to abandon the JCPOA,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press briefing on March 31, using an acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran deal, which the US left in May 2018 in pursuit of the so-called maximum pressure policy.
“It was in the aftermath of the decision to apply the [foreign terrorist organization] designation to the [Islamic Revolution Guards Corps]. It was in the aftermath of the killing of Soleimani, the IRGC [Quds Force] chief,” he said.
‘Ain al-Assad attack shattered US grandeur’
Khoshchesm also made clear that Operation Martyr Soleimani was “just the beginning of Iran’s hybrid responses.”
“On the broader picture, one could say that expelling the United States from the region is one of the ultimate goals on the strategic levels, but the Ain al-Asad attack … was a very symbolic move, because it shattered the US [grandeur] in the world,” he added.
On a separate note, Khoshcheshm said even the Chinese and Russians admitted that they have been feeling more respect for Iranians and Iran’s military power in the aftermath of Operation Martyr Soleimani.
“The Ain al-Asad story displayed that Iran is not afraid, [and] that Iran has very precise and powerful ballistic missile power that could hit anyone,” he said.