The U.S. military launched a secret operation to kill a second high-ranking Iranian terrorist last week on the same day that President Donald Trump authorized a drone strike that killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Forces (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Soleimani.
“The disclosure of a second mission indicated that the Trump administration was attempting to target a larger set of Iranian military and paramilitary leaders than was previously known,” The New York Times reported. “The unsuccessful airstrike in Yemen was aimed at Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force, a potent paramilitary organization. He was known as a key financier for Iran’s proxy wars.”
The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials said that details of the mission remain “highly classified” and suggested that Shahlai could be re-targeted again in the future.
“Another senior official said the two strikes were authorized around the same time and that the United States did not disclose the Shahlai mission because it did not go according to plan,” The Post reported. “The official said Shahlai may be targeted in the future, though both countries have signaled an interest in de-escalating the crisis.”
One top U.S. official told The Post, “If we had killed him, we’d be bragging about it that same night.”
The U.S. State Department announced a $15 million reward last month for information leading to Shahlai and the disruption of the IRGC’s financial networks.
Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative on Iran, said last month that “Shahlai has a long history of attacks Americans and our allies globally.”
“He planned multiple assassinations of coalition forces in Iraq, provided weapons and explosives to violent Shia extremist groups, and planned the January 20th, 2007 attack in Karbala that killed five American soldiers and wounded three others,” Hook continued. “In 2011, Shahlai funded and directed a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir. This would have been carried out in a restaurant in Georgetown. Shahlai also aimed to carry out follow-on attacks in the United States and elsewhere. Had this scheme succeeded, as many as 200 innocent civilians in the United States could have been killed.”
“Given Shahlai’s track record of terrorism and destabilization in Iraq, we remain gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind that we have interdicted to the Houthis,” Hook continued. “Iranian UAVs, missiles, and explosive boats have been used by the Houthis to threaten key civilian and economic interests and otherwise wreak havoc in the region. This designation, together with the recent interdiction in Yemen, underscores our commitment to deny Iran the means to run an expansionist foreign policy.”
Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed on Friday details of the terrorist attack that Qassem Soleimani was planning on U.S. interests in the region that led to the president’s decision to eliminate him.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump said, “I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies.”
During a press conference, Pompeo said that the attack was targeted “American facilities, including American embassies, military bases. American facilities throughout the region.”