Soleimani has been described as “the equivalent of the J.S.O.C. commander, the C.I.A. director and Iran’s real foreign minister,” in a reference to the acronym for the United States’ Joint Special Operations Command.

Even so, the Pentagon said “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It pointed out that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is a “US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” and added that Soleimani and his Quds Force “were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of president Donald Trump’s, said that Soleimani “had American blood on his hands.” Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, said Soleimani was “an arch terrorist.” Leading members of the Democratic Party didn’t disagree about Soleimani’s record, but questioned the wisdom of taking him out.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee, said that “Soleimani was responsible for unthinkable violence and world is better off without him.” Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, said “no American will mourn Solemani’s passing.” He added, however, that taking his life would probably have significant consequences: “President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”

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