President Donald Trump Trump authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani seven months ago, according to administration sources.
Trump signed off on killing Suleimani in June if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials, which raises new questions about the justification for ordering the airstrike, reported NBC News.
“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” a senior administration official said.
That source told NBC News that aides placed Suleimani’s assassination on the list of options “some time ago.”
Administration officials have claimed Suleimani’s killing was ordered in response to an “imminent threat,” which the president has claimed — without evidence — involved up to four embassies.
Former national security adviser John Bolton urged Trump to approve Suleimani’s killing in June, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone, but the president said at that time he would not agree unless Iran killed an American.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to approve Suleimani’s killing at that time, sources said.
Pompeo, who was Trump’s first CIA director, has consistently urged the president to take a more aggressive approach to Suleimani.
Trump’s second national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, also discussed killing Suleimani as early as 2017.
The president ordered a drone strike that killed Suleimani on Jan. 3 near the Baghdad airport after an Iranian-backed militia killed Iraqi-American defense contractor Nawres Hamid a few days earlier.