President Donald Trump honored the family of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, assuring them that the “evil reign of terror” of the man responsible for the murder, Iranian terror chief Qasem Soleimani, was over.
Soleimani, a major general and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, was responsible for Iran’s terrorist operations abroad, particularly against the United States. He was believed to have coordinated a significant number of human rights atrocities in Syria in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad and was in charge of organizing terrorist activity in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Latin America, among other areas.
He prioritized the use of roadside bombs to injure and kill American soldiers in battlefields like Iraq, where Iran largely controls the government in Baghdad and its proxy forces on the ground.
President Trump ordered an airstrike against Soleimani last month after a mob of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militants attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The PMF is a coalition of largely Shiite, pro-Iran militias that the Iraqi government legalized as a wing of its armed forces during the fight against the Islamic State. Members of the mob spray-painted “Soleimani is our commander” on the side of the U.S. embassy less than a week before Trump ordered the airstrike, which also killed a senior PMF leader.
On Tuesday, Trump welcomed to the Congressional chamber the family of Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, who lost his life in Iraq in 2008, the victim of one of Soleimani’s bombs.
“On his second deployment to Iraq in 2008, Sergeant Hake wrote a letter to his 1-year-old son, Gage: ‘I will be with you again,’ he wrote to Gage,” Trump narrated. ”’I will teach you to ride your first bike, build your first sandbox, watch you play sports and see you have kids also. I love you son, take care of your mother. I am always with you. Dad.’”
“On Easter Sunday of 2008, Chris was out on patrol in Baghdad when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. That night, he made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Trump continued. “Sergeant Hake now rests in eternal glory in Arlington, and his wife Kelli is in the gallery tonight, joined by their son, who is now 13 years old. To Kelli and Gage: Chris will live in our hearts forever.”
Trump noted that Soleimani “provided the deadly roadside bomb that took Chris’s life.”
“Soleimani was the Iranian Regime’s most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq,” Trump said. “As the world’s top terrorist, Soleimani orchestrated the deaths of countless men, women, and children. He directed the December assault on United States Forces in Iraq, and was actively planning new attacks. That is why, last month, at my direction, the United States Military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever.”
“Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life!”
Trump also offered support to the thousands of Iranians at home that protested their regime in the aftermath of Soleimani’s elimination. Iranians took to the streets to protest their government after Tehran shot down a Ukrainian commercial airliner while launching a barrage of ballistic missiles at Iraqi military sites hosting U.S. troops, the Iranian regime’s official response to the Soleimani airstrike.
“In recent months, we have seen proud Iranians raise their voices against their oppressive rulers. The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people,” Trump concluded. “Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it very good in a short period of time, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help. We are here. Let’s see which road they choose. It is totally up to them.”