“Iran was on a pathway to acquiring a nuclear weapon provided by the nuclear deal,” said Mike Pompeo, discussing U.S. strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuke
Last week, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a targeted strike by U.S. forces authorized by President Trump. This preemptive attack has spawned a curious debate over whether Soleimani posed an imminent threat at the time he was taken out.
The suggestion, mainly by partisan Democrats, is that it was illegitimate for the president to use lethal force without congressional authorization absent proof that Soleimani was on the cusp of killing Americans — or, better, killing even more Americans.
The debate puts me in mind of the early-to-mid 1990s, when our counterterrorism laws were dangerously flawed. Back then, sensible Democrats — as most of them were — knew that these defects had to be addressed. Rather than sound like apologists for anti-American jihadists, they took admirably expeditious action.
The problem emerged in the investigation of the proto-Qaeda terror network guided by the so-called Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman. I was then a federal prosecutor and took over that investigation in spring 1993.
At the time, having just bombed the World Trade Center, the jihadists were actively plotting something even more monstrous: simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the United Nations complex on Manhattan’s east side. The jihadists were also scouting additional landmarks in the city, including U.S. military facilities and the FBI’s downtown headquarters.
We knew about the plot — and were in a position to thwart it — because we had a confidential informant. (Back then, neither he nor anyone else got the sniffles over the media’s labeling him a “spy”).
Emad Salem, a former Egyptian military officer, had infiltrated the cell and covertly recorded discussions with the Blind Sheikh about the desirability of bombing U.S. armed forces. Like the Shiite Iranian regime (longtime supporters of Sunni Al Qaeda and Hamas, as well as Shiite Hezbollah), Abdel Rahman, a renowned Sunni sharia scholar, recommended that Muslims put aside their internecine conflicts when it came to fighting America, “the Great Satan.”