Reprinted with permission from DCReport
Trump’s hit on Iran’s powerful military mastermind Qassim Suleimani may have just closed the door on future U.S. monitoring of other high-level Iranians and their efforts to build nuclear weapons.
“The first thing me and a bunch of guys thought was, Trump’s in Florida without the people around him who would try to stop this,” a former senior U.S. intelligence officer speaking on condition of anonymity told DC Report.
“He’s pissed off about the attack on the [U.S.] embassy. He thinks Obama should have gotten rid of Suleimani long ago and he wants to show who’s got the balls. But it wasn’t the smartest move. It’s called a pre-emptive neutralization.
“The problem is, once you do one assassination, you usually end up having to do more.”
Once you do one assassination, you usually end up having to do more.
Both former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush decided against killing Suleimani, fearing it would lead to war.
Trump tweeted on Friday, “General Qassim Suleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught. He was, directly and indirectly, responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself.
“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Suleimani was both hated and feared within the country,” Trump continued. “They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!”
A Blood-Red Ring
Suleimani, 62, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who ran every significant military and intelligence operation for more than two decades, was killed in a convoy of vehicles leaving Baghdad Airport Thursday. His mangled body was identified by the trademark blood-red ring on his hand. Also killed was Abu Mahdi-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Force.
It is unclear what the men were doing at the airport, but Suleimani’s plane had flown in from either Lebanon or Syria and Mahdi-Muhandis had arrived at the airport to greet him. They were both killed by an MQ-9 Reaper drone.
In pulling a move straight out of the “Die Hard” playbook from his Mar-a-Lago HQ in Palm Beach, Trump may get a massive bounce off his base and deflect from that pesky impeachment issue in Washington D.C., but he’s playing a short game.
Cracking Iranian Intelligence
Why? Because at least at first glance, Trump apparently decided it was worth letting Iran know that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had managed to do the unthinkable: crack the vaunted Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran (known as MOIS or VAJA) intelligence service.
Tracking Suleimani’s whereabouts had long been a priority for the American and Israeli spy services and military, especially when he was in Iraq, The New York Times reported. The Times, quoting current and former military intelligence officials, said the successful attack on Suleimani came from a “combination of information from secret informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance tools.”
But the intelligence officer who spoke to DCReport said that based on his more than 30 years of experience he believes the assassinations came as a result of genius cyber-hacking on the part of the NSA and not much else.
“Probably nobody wants to say is this: Trump killed one big guy but as a result, we lose access to eavesdropping on Iran and their nukes which is arguably a lot more important.”
The NSA, he said, must have been “listening” to Iranian intelligence intel at “the very highest levels.”
Iran Knows What U.S. Knows
“Without a doubt, the Iranians now know we were listening to their commo [communications],” the intelligence officer said. “It was a night drone. Theoretically, they might have put a tracker somewhere on their cars, but I don’t quite see these guys leaving their cars unattended in the airport parking lot. Penetrating the MOIS is really really hard but obviously the NSA did it. MOIS is a very tough target. I guarantee you their counterintelligence chief is going crazy right now saying, how did the Americans know?”
It’s as if Iran found a way to hack into the uppermost intel of the NSA and thus knew where Trump or, say, Gen. Richard D. Clarke, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, were at all times.
“You can’t think it was an inside job,” the officer said. “I don’t believe it was a human source. It wasn’t his [Suleimani’s] trusted aides because they’re dead, too. I highly doubt any of the western services got anybody in there. This had to be electronic.”
If all that is true, Trump may have sacrificed the ability for American intelligence to monitor Iranian’s nuclear program forever.
“Whatever we did, we’ve lost that source for good now. It used to be we caught the bad guys off their mobile phones, but they don’t use them anymore. Whatever they’ve been using, you can be sure they’re throwing them out.”
After the killings of Suleimani and Mahdi-Muhandis, the United States announced plans to send 3,000 more troops to the Middle East because of the attack on the American embassy in Baghdad Wednesday. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “forceful revenge”
“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” the supreme leader said in a statement.
Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia that hit U.S. troops in Iraq with a rocket attack Wednesday, igniting the spark that led to the assassinations also warned Friday that America will face “grave consequences.”
But not everyone thinks Iran, despite its nascent nuclear capabilities and glorious history as the world’s first global superpower and the birthplace of science and technology, will actually strike back like a bunch of low-rent Al Qaeda terrorists.
“Iran can be counted on to avoid direct confrontation with the U.S., and ignore this provocation without resorting to a military response,” long-time Japan-based correspondent Jennifer Matsui wrote on Facebook.
“This is typical of the kind of civilization that didn’t invent Cheese-in-Crust Pizza, but the concept of human rights and water supply systems. IMPOTUS is playing dotard Bingo on a chessboard.”