(CNSNews.com) – In his first speech since the targeted killing of Iran’s top commander, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, President Donald Trump said Friday that he ordered the military strike against Soleimani, who he called “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world,” because Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”
“We caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump said in a speech in Palm Beach, Fla. “Under my leadership, America's policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies.
“For years the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force under Soleimani's leadership has targeted, injured around murdered hundreds of Americans and servicemen. The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rockets strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad were carried out at the direction of Soleimani,” he said.
“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani's many atrocities, and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over,” the president said.
Trump said that killing Soleimani was something that “should have been done long ago.”
“A lot of lives would have been saved,” he said. “Just recently, Soleimani led the brutal representation of protesters in Iran where more than 1,000 innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.”
The president explained that killing Soleimani was done to “stop a war” not start one, and the United States is not seeking regime change.
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” he said. “I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change.
“However, the Iranian regime's aggression in the region, including use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end, and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those that seek peaceful co-existence and cooperation, not the terrorist war lords, who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad,” Trump said.
“The United States has the best military by far anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that in particular refers to Iran,” he said.
“Under my leadership, we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate and recently Americans’ special operations forces killed the terrorist leader known as Al-Baghdadi. The world is a safer place without these monsters. America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls while seeking peace, harmony and friendship with all of the nations of the world,” the president concluded.